Gangmaster loses licence after probe

A GANGMASTER has had its licence to supply workers to the agricultural industry revoked by the Government.

Danielle Nuttall

A GANGMASTER has had its licence to supply workers to the agricultural industry revoked by the Government.

Goose Recruit Ltd, based in Leiston, has been told to stop trading in the agricultural industry or face prosecution after the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) withdrew its licence.

The company specialises in providing staff to a variety of industries in and outside of East Anglia such as haulage, construction, security, industrial and environmental.

But officers from the GLA found accommodation charges to agricultural workers were unacceptably high, with attempts made to hide the charges by deducting part of the money directly from workers' bank accounts after they had been paid so the figures did not show up on wage slips.

There was also no legal system in place to provide holiday pay, staff worked excessive hours and had not taken sufficient breaks between shifts, no records of timesheets were held by the company and no arrangements were in place to identify responsibility for health and safety training.

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The company is the second in the town to have its licence revoked this year.

Vilnius Recruitment Ltd, also based in Leiston, had its licence taken away by the GLA in January.

When investigating Goose Recruit Ltd, GLA officers discovered the director of Vilnius Recruitment Ltd was involved in the company.

The company originally had their licence revoked in March and had 20 days to submit an appeal. As no appeal was made the licence has now been formally revoked.

Goose Recruit Ltd was contacted last night but nobody was available to comment.

The GLA was set up to stop the exploitation of workers in agriculture, horticulture, shellfish gathering and associated processing and packaging industries after the deaths of 23 Chinese cockle pickers in Morecambe Bay in 2004.

The majority of the workers involved in these industries come from countries such as Romania, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria and Latvia.

Paul Whitehouse, chairman of the GLA, said: “There is no hiding place for rogue gangmasters. We will hunt them down.

“The GLA is intent on cracking down on illegal work practices in every bid to protect workers from exploitation.”

More than 1,100 gangmasters are now licensed to operate legally in the UK and the GLA has uncovered worker exploitation and illegal activity leading to the revocation of 53 licences.

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