Grim find on cockling beach as pressure intensifies on brutal gangmasters – Fishupdate.com

Grim find on cockling beach as pressure intensifies on brutal gangmasters Published:  12 July, 2004

A body found in Morecambe Bay, Lancashire, yesterday, Sunday, is thought to be another victim of the cockle picking tragedy, which occurred earlier this year, according to police reports.

So far twenty bodies have been discovered following the accident on the 5th of February in which workers of Chinese origin were caught by a fast rising

tide. However, police believed as many as 23 may have died.

A spokesman for Lancashire Police said: “It’s likely that the body may be

one of the outstanding victims”.

However, she told Fishupdate.com: “The post mortem examination

will be carried out on Tuesday morning, and we should know pretty speedily

after that.”

Discovery of the body comes just three days after the UK government passed a

bill of law, designed to stop gangmasters exploiting agricultural workers in

the UK. The government hopes that the new law will prevent a repeat of the

Morecambe bay incident.

Its discovery on Sunday also comes two days after three people appeared in

court on various charges relating to the incident, ranging from conspiracy

to break labour and immigration laws to manslaughter. Their appearance

came a day or two after two other men were charged in connection with the

drownings.

Under the new UK Gangmasters Licensing Act, all labour will henceforth have

to be licensed. A Gangmasters Licensing Authority is to be set up to

operate a licensing scheme, set licensing conditions and maintain a register

of licensed gangmasters.

Crucially, the Act will make it an offence, punishable by a maximum penalty

of ten years in prison, to operate without a licence or to engage the

services of an unlicensed gangmaster, or use false documentation.

UK Food and Farming Minister Lord Whitty said that the new law would mean

that everyone in the food supply chain will now be able to distinguish

between legal and illegal operators.

He said: “This is a major step forward in the fight to end exploitation by

unscrupulous gangmasters. I hope this new law will help prevent tragedies

such as the one at Morecambe Bay happening again.

Immigration Minister Des Browne added: “There is now no excuse for anybody

to use gangmasters who exploit vulnerable workers. Government and its

agencies will continue to work together on operations and initiatives to

enforce the law.”

By the end of July, the UK Department of the Environment, Fisheries and

Rural Affairs will begin a consultation on draft regulations to establish

the Gangmasters Licensing Authority.