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UK: 13 gangmasters under investigation after Easter raid

http://www.fwi.co.uk/Articles/2008/03/17/109832/13-gangmasters-under-
investigation-after-easter-raid.html

An unannounced raid targeted labour providers in the flower, plant
and bulb industry around Spalding and Boston in the run up to Mothers
Day and Easter.

GLA officers with the assistance of the Vehicle & Operator Services
Agency (VOSA) entered the premises of a number of nurseries,
inspected vehicles used to transport workers and carried out worker
interviews on several daffodil fields in the area.

The gangmasters were supplying hundreds of mainly English, Polish and
Slovakian workers to pick daffodils and work in the nurseries.

Officers found:

* workers were transported on a plank of wood held up by breeze
blocks in the back of a transit van;
* some workers had been charged £60 a week for accommodation and had
not been given any work for three weeks;
* workers were required to surrender their passports to the
gangmaster;
* agricultural minimum wage was not paid;
* excessive accommodation charges, some charges were over £30 per
week more than the legal requirement for minimum wage workers;
* workers did not receive holiday pay;
* workers were charged for Personal Protective Equipment to carry out
their jobs; and
* VOSA issued two prohibition notices on minibuses used to transport
workers.

Thirteen licensed gangmasters are under investigation as a result of
the operation.

Re: UK: 13 gangmasters under investigation after Easter raid

Siklly question, perhaps. But why is that anyone would work through a gangmaster and not direct for the employer? Why do employers work with gangmasters?

Re: UK: 13 gangmasters under investigation after Easter raid

Silly question .......!!!

Re: UK: 13 gangmasters under investigation after Easter raid

It's just the term used for the system here Hans.

Gangmasters are like quasi employment agencies for unskilled workers in very manual areas such as farming, factory packing, fruit picking etc. They provide large numbers of labourers to wherever they are needed in the country. The gangmaster is like a middle man. The employment is on a contract basis.

I suppose the diff with gangmasters is that an employment agency wouldn't usually arrange accommodation, transport etc. They are more involved than a normal agency. However, that also means they have more power over the worker. Basically the worker relies on the gangmaster for everything and that's why it's so open to abuse.

Any foreign workers need to first check whether the gangmaster is registered with the GLA (gangmaster licensing authority). If they are not registered nobody is checking up on them. It's quite a controversial system because you can end up with abuse of human rights because the worker (who usually doesn't speak much english and is not usually highly educated) is so dependent on the gangmaster doing the right thing. However, parts of local economies are propped up by this system and were it to disappear whole farms and factories could shut down.