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News

Action on gangmasters will protect workers

Defra : 13 March, 2006  (Company News)
Up to 600,000 workers will be protected from exploitation by rogue employers with the introduction of gangmaster licensing, Defra announced today. Licences must be held by anyone supplying labourers to work in agriculture or food processing and packaging.
Up to 600,000 workers will be protected from exploitation by rogue employers with the introduction of gangmaster licensing, Defra announced today. Licences must be held by anyone supplying labourers to work in agriculture or food processing and packaging.

Defra Minister Jim Knight said: 'We are acting to protect everyone involved in picking, processing, preparing or packing produce if they are supplied by gangmasters. We consulted with industry, employers and unions to come up with what we are certain is the best solution.

'Of course, many gangmasters run safe and legitimate businesses but it's imperative that we do everything we can to weed out the rogues among them. By introducing a sensible and robust system of licensing, to be administered by the Gangmaster Licensing Authority, we can do that. It will become an offence for a gangmaster to operate without a licence.

'We are also planning to review the system after one year to ensure it is working effectively. We are especially keen to ensure it doesn't become an excessive burden for small businesses. But we know that genuine labour providers want us to outlaw the bad operators who bring their industry into disrepute.'

Licences will not be needed by those supplying labour to retailers, caterers or wholesalers. Also excluded are the short-term loans of workers between farms, supply of individual specialist farm workers and the supply of labour to process non-farm products which include an agricultural component (such as cosmetics).

Mr Knight also announced to Parliament regulations for an appeals procedure which can be followed by gangmasters who are refused a licence or have their licence withdrawn.

The Gangmasters Licensing Authority also set out today the conditions attached to a licence and the fees to be charged.
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