GLAA remembers lives lost in Morecambe Bay tragedy
4th February 2020
The Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) has reaffirmed its commitment to protect vulnerable and exploited workers in the week of the 16th anniversary of the Morecambe Bay tragedy.
Twenty-three Chinese cockle pickers drowned off the Lancashire coast after becoming trapped by incoming tides on the evening of 5 February 2004.
They had been brought to the UK illegally with the promise of a better life but ended up working in dangerous conditions and unfamiliar surroundings to send money back to their families.
Gangmaster Lin Liang Ren was convicted of manslaughter and helping the cockle pickers break immigration laws. He was sent to prison for 14 years in 2006, with his girlfriend and cousin also jailed.
Calls for regulation of the industry paved the way for the creation of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) in 2005. The new authority was handed a remit of tackling unlicensed gangmasters in the shellfish industry, along with agriculture, horticulture, and any associated processing and packaging.
The GLA was given further powers in 2017 and rebranded as the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) to investigate forced or compulsory labour offences across the labour market in England and Wales.
GLAA Chief Executive Michael Rich said: “This week is a time for reflection and remembering the lives lost in this awful tragedy.
“Ending exploitation in gathering shellfish remains a top priority for the GLAA in large part because of the tragic events of 5 February 2004, and the very real threat to life this work carries if it is conducted illegally.
“Thankfully, great strides have been made since the tragedy in regulating the industry to reduce the possibility of something like this ever happening again.
“But we are not complacent. We will continue to protect vulnerable workers by working in partnership to target non-compliance and exploitative practices across the labour market.”
If you suspect someone is being exploited for their labour, contact the GLAA’s intelligence team on 0800 4320804 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.