Keeping Cornish flower harvest free from exploitation
16th January 2014
The GLA is calling on agencies that provide flower pickers in Cornwall and the growers themselves to join them in helping to stamp out worker exploitation through the coming season.
Problems have been experienced in past years when daffodil picking gets underway in the county in January.
Migrant workers arrive to find their working and living conditions in the UK do not match what was described.
As the county prepares for scores of workers to arrive in the next few days ready for the 2014 picking season, the GLA Chief Executive Paul Broadbent would like to convey the following message.
“With a large influx of migrant workers to any area over a relatively short period of time, opportunities exist to exploit these vulnerable people who have little or no command of English,” he said.
“The majority of operators adhere to the necessary regulations in place to protect workers, but there are some unscrupulous businesses who, driven by profit, may underpay or mistreat their workers - cutting corners to make money.
“From our perspective, the messages are simple – labour agencies supplying workers for flower picking need to have a current GLA licence and must comply with our licensing standards.
“Flower growers using labour provided by a gangmaster should only employ pickers from licensed operators and should treat those workers fairly and with respect at all times. If in doubt, call the GLA and we will help you.
“And to everyone else in Cornwall, if you suspect unlicensed activity is taking place or workers are being exploited in any way, contact us free and in confidence on 0800 432 0804.”
In order to be on the ‘front foot’ this season, the GLA has written to all agencies and flower growers known to operate in Cornwall.
Agencies have been asked for information on when and where they intend to supply, how many workers they will employ and what nationalities they are.
Growers have been asked to provide details of the agencies they intend to use, where the workers will be living and working and for how long.
It takes only minutes to check if a labour provider holds a current licence. Anyone can check online by searching the GLA’s public register at www.gla.defra.gov.uk.
By registering for ‘active checks’ with the GLA it is possible to receive alerts by post or email should the status of specified licence holders change – for example, if they fail to renew or have their licence revoked.
It is also possible to check who holds a licence with a quick call to the GLA’s licensing team on 0845 602 5020.
Press release issued by GLA Communications and Information Officer Paul Fearn. For more information contact 0115 959 7069 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Notes to editors
1. The GLA operates throughout the UK and is a Non Departmental Public Body.
2. The authority was formed in 2005 in the wake of the Morecambe Bay cockle picking disaster when 23 Chinese workers drowned on the sands.
3. The GLA licences companies that supply labour (gangmasters) to agriculture, horticulture, food processing and packaging and shellfish gathering.
4. Its main strategic priorities are to prevent worker exploitation, protect vulnerable people and tackle unlicensed and criminal activity.
5. Under the Gangmasters Licensing Act (2004) it is illegal both to operate as, or employ the services of, an unlicensed gangmaster.