GLA revokes Rotherham gangmaster who ‘couldn’t be bothered’ to comply
17th February 2015
A Rotherham gangmaster has been stripped of his licence by the GLA after demonstrating ‘a total disregard for ensuring compliance with legal requirements’. Mr Peter Milewski was the person named as being responsible for the day-to-day running of P & M Groundworks, a company based in Westfield Crescent, Thurnscoe.
The company had its licence revoked without immediate effect in March last year after an inspection by the GLA found the director ‘not fit and proper’ to run a compliant business. P & M Groundworks provides workers to carry out daffodil picking and vegetable harvesting UK-wide. During the hearing in Sheffield Mr Milewski admitted he was given access to all the necessary advice and guidance by the GLA but by his own admission ‘could not be bothered to read it’.
The company director also admitted falsely reclaiming VAT for fuel and worker accommodation costs that were not incurred by his business. He claimed VAT back for rooms that had been paid for directly by his employees and also transported workers in a 16-seater minibus he was not licensed to drive. The court was also told that the company’s records were insufficient to prove that workers were receiving the National Minimum Wage. P & M Groundworks appealed against the GLA’s revocation decision, stating that it was ‘wrong and disproportionate’.
This allowed the company to continue trading in the GLA sector until the appeal case was concluded. However, an employment judge in Sheffield agreed with the GLA’s verdict and specified that the licence revocation would come into force at midnight tonight. (TUES) GLA Chief Executive Paul Broadbent expressed his delight that the GLA had once again been successful in the appeal courts.
“The slipshod attitude and actions demonstrated by the appellant in this case fall way short of the standards the GLA and the public demand to ensure workers in our regulated sector are not exploited.
“Whether through a lack of will, awareness or both, there were a number of requirements that were simply not being met or even considered.
“We licence nearly 1,000 gangmasters and the overwhelming majority are ethical and comply with our standards but P & M Groundworks demonstrated during our inspection and subsequent appeal hearing that they are certainly not one of them.”
In announcing his written verdict, Employment Judge Little said Mr Milewski had illustrated his approach to the requirements in the regulated sector in which he operated under cross examination when he said he had the necessary guidance but ‘could not be bothered to look at it’.
P & M Groundworks failed two critical standards, worth 30 penalty points each, as well as one non-critical standard (eight points) to accrue a total of 68 points. A licence is revoked when a total of 30 points is reached.
Added Judge Little:
“The appellant had correctly been given a score of 68 points and the correct result, which was neither wrong nor disproportionate, was that the licence had to be revoked.”
Press release issued by GLA Communications and Information Officer Paul Fearn. For more information from the GLA 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) for agriculture, horticulture, shellfish gathering as well as all associated processing and packaging.
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.