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Concern at cuts in vulnerable worker protection

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Planned government cuts to the watchdog set up to protect vulnerable workers after the drowning deaths of 23 migrant cockle pickers have been criticised by the TUC. The TUC says it is 'seriously concerned' by proposals aimed at limiting inspections by the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) and weakening its licensing system. Responding to a government consultation, TUC warned: 'In the TUC's opinion, the government's approach to deregulation and flexibility of labour is totally inappropriate in this context.' TUC added: 'The GLA's already limited resources will have been slashed by almost 20 per cent by the end of this parliament based on government spending plans. With the proposed greater focus on serious crime cases the TUC is seriously concerned that abuses towards vulnerable workers in the food and agricultural sectors will go undetected and are likely to increase.' GLA was created in the aftermath of the drowning deaths of 23 Chinese cockle pickers working under a rogue gangmaster in Morecambe Bay in 2004 (Risks 601). Unions have argued that GLA should be strengthened and its scope extended to protect other vulnerable workers in sectors like construction.

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