U.K.: Gangmasters agency investigates exploitation in fresh produce sector - FreshFruitPortal.com

U.K.: Gangmasters agency investigates exploitation in fresh produce sector

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U.K.: Gangmasters agency investigates exploitation in fresh produce sector

A U.K. government investigation into abuses of labor, human trafficking, payment, unlawful practices and license breaches in the British fresh produce, agriculture and horticulture sectors was carried out during a week-long focus as part of national Anti-Slavery Day (Oct. 18) earlier this month. Here, freshfruitportal.com takes a closer look at what the Gangmasters Licensing Authority discovered during its ‘'week in the life of the GLA’.'

During the initiative the GLA dealt with five potential incidences of human trafficking, fielded more than 160 licensing enquiries and garnered more than 200 intelligence items. apple tree

A total of 42 calls were taken from by the GLA’'s intelligence unit in English, Russian, Romanian, Lithuanian and Polish in connection with the possible exploitation of workers in the regulated sectors of fresh produce processing and packing, as well as horticulture, agriculture and shellfish gathering.

From these enquiries, the GLA discovered many workers had been underpaid by licensed labor providers and subsequently negotiated repayment.

Out in the field, a total of nine labor providers were inspected, while 13 labor users (farms, factories and pack houses) were visited to gather intelligence in relation to 85 different workers in the sector.

One case of possible human trafficking has been referred to the U.K. Human Trafficking Centre (UKHTC), while two more potential victims were discovered during a separate worker interview session.

Gathering intelligence at several U.K. ports

As part of the GLA’s work, officers teamed up with Albanian police in the ports of Calais and Dunkirk to speak directly with migrant workers heading to Britain to take up jobs.

In addition, approximately 50 workers were spoken to in France and two more potential victims of trafficking were identified.

"“Work of this nature continues 24 hours-a-day, seven days-a-week and it seemed appropriate to highlight this to coincide with Anti-Slavery Day,"” says GLA chief executive Paul Broadbent.

“"As well as the other items listed, six new alleged criminal offences involving labor exploitation were uncovered and will now be investigated along with the 70 current cases working their way through the legal system.

"“People assisted us with our enquiries across the entire U.K. with some of our officers also being deployed overseas to gather evidence against international organized criminals.”"

Through the GLA inspection, at least ten possible license breaches were uncovered, one gangmaster license was revoked and additional conditions were ordered to another license to prevent exploitation.

A total of 19 licenses were renewed, five new ones issues and the a number of new applications are now being processed.


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