embargo: 00.01hrs Friday 24 June 2005
The new licensing system for gangmasters and agencies will leave thousands of temporary, mainly migrant, workers vulnerable to exploitation unless all individuals and companies responsible for the supply of labour to the UKs agriculture and food and meat processing industries are covered, says the TUC today (Friday).
In its submission to the Governments consultation on the proposed regulations for the licensing of gangmasters - due to come into force next year - the TUC says it is concerned that ministers intend to limit the scheme to those agencies and individuals providing staff to work in abattoirs and fruit and vegetable picking and packing.
Any move to limit the licensing scheme to the primary processing sector will open up a loophole ripe for exploiting by unscrupulous gangmasters keen on getting around the law, says the TUC submission.
The TUC would like to see all agencies and gangmasters providing manpower for secondary processing in the UK to also be covered by the new regulations. This would mean that apart from agencies supplying abattoirs and farmers, gangmasters providing temporary labour to firms involved in secondary processing industries such as the making of snacks and crisps, meat pies and sausages, as well as bread and cakes would also be covered.
TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: 'With instances of non-payment of the minimum wage and the confiscation of personal papers being reported by migrant workers, the Government needs to get tough with unscrupulous suppliers of temporary labour. Law-abiding gangmasters have nothing to fear from a wide-ranging licensing system. It is only those currently operating illegally and on the fringes of the law who will have to clean up their acts.
'Ministers must allow the licensing scheme to have the widest possible reach. Only a scheme covering both primary and secondary processing will be robust enough to deter those ruthless individuals who are currently making a lot of money from exploiting large numbers of mainly foreign, temporary workers.'
NOTES TO EDITORS:
The full TUC submission to the consultation on the Draft Gangmasters (Exclusions) Regulations 2005 is at http://www.tuc.org.uk/international/tuc-10073-f0.cfm
- All TUC press releases can be found at www.tuc.org.uk
- Register for the TUC's press extranet : a service exclusive to journalists wanting to access pre‑embargo releases and reports from the TUC. Visit www.tuc.org.uk/pressextranet
- A series of TUC rights leaflets are available on our website and from the know your rights line 0870 600 4 882. Lines are open every day from 9am-9pm. Calls are charged at the national rate.
Media enquiries: Liz Chinchen T: 020 7467 1248; M: 07778 158175; E: [email protected]
Issued: 24 June, 2005