High visibility patrols check welfare of shellfish gatherers in Scotland
23rd September 2020
More than 50 Chinese shellfish gatherers have been spoken to as part of a three-day awareness and engagement operation involving the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) and partners in Scotland.
High visibility patrols by GLAA officers, Police Scotland, East Lothian Council and Fife Council were conducted from Friday September 18 to Sunday September 20.
Resources across the three days were focused on beaches at Musselburgh and Pettycur, with other patrols at Port Seton, Dunbar, Whitesands Beach and Shell Bay.
Thirty Chinese pickers were observed hand gathering shellfish across East Lothian and Fife on the first day. They had buckets or large bags containing razor clams, king clams and cockles.
All were handed leaflets outlining their employment rights and how to spot the signs of modern slavery and human trafficking. They were also given guidance on the amount of shellfish they could collect from the sands for their own personal use.
Seven gatherers were spoken to at Shell Bay on Saturday and a further 15 were handed awareness-raising material at Musselburgh, Port Seton and Whitesands on Sunday.
While no modern slavery, gangmaster or labour exploitation offences were identified during the activity, the operation was successful in focusing on the welfare of the workers encountered by the teams over the course of the three days.
GLAA Senior Investigating Officer Martin Plimmer said: “This operation was organised in response to a notable increase in intelligence relating to unsafe working practices and potential exploitation in the shellfish gathering sector over recent months.
“This has been an issue which began around the time of lockdown and has continued since then. We are committed to working with partners to drive labour abuse out of our communities and protect vulnerable workers from exploitation by educating them about their rights and responsibilities in gathering shellfish safely.
“In addition to speaking to the gatherers, there was really positive engagement with local residents who are keen to help ensure that their neighbourhoods remain free from exploitation and dangerous working practices.
“I would urge people to be aware of the signs of exploitation and to report their concerns to us, providing as much information as possible so we can take action with our partners.”
You can call the GLAA’s intelligence team on 0800 4320804 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alternatively, call the Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.