Cornish gangmasters lose licence

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Three gangmasters have had their licences revoked after a major investigation into the treatment of Polish and Lithuanian gang labour used to pick flowers in Cornwall and Scotland.

The investigation led to the revocation of the licences of AAW Contract Services Ltd, JDSS Limited and E U Labour Ltd after the Gangmasters Licensing Authroity (GLA) found overcrowded accommodation and workers living on less than £10 a day.

The GLA uncovered a tangled web of exploitation where one gangmaster supplied the workers, another provided the accommodation and the transport with the third believed to be a ‘lifeboat’ licence that could be used to transfer the workers to if the other licences were revoked.

The information about the practices of the gangmasters came to light during Migrant Workers Action Week, a multi agency operation in Cornwall involving Devon and Cornwall Constabulary, Kerrier and Penwith District Council, Cornwall County Fire Brigade and VOSA.

The GLA found that the workers, who were housed in overcrowded caravans, were only paid subs of £50 a week and occasionally less, with the rest of their wages held back until their contract had finished.

Workers who had left the employment of AAW Contracts Services had not been paid what they were owed, with no evidence of forwarding addresses seen by GLA officers for the money to be sent on to the workers .

Paul Whitehouse, chairman of the GLA said: “Workers are not a commodity and should not be treated like one. The law is in place to protect them and we will enforce the law.”

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