Abusive Gangmaster Loses Appeal
23rd July 2008
A Cambridgeshire gangmaster, who appealed against the Gangmasters Licensing Authority’s decision to revoke his licence, has lost his case after clear evidence of a ‘systematic and cynical series of breaches’ was found by the independent adjudicator this month.
The Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA), who were supported by Sainsbury’s and Produce World in this case, revoked the licence of ELS Recruitment LTD of Peterborough with immediate effect after uncovering shocking abuse earlier this year (April). In dismissing the appeal the judgement stated that:
“(T)here was clear evidence of a systematic and cynical series of breaches that inevitably led to the finding that there has been a total disregard for the standards required of all licence labour providers, and ELS cannot be regarded as ‘fit and proper’ to hold a GLA licence.”
Paul Whitehouse, Chairman of the GLA, said:
“ELS Recruitment Ltd controlled where the workers lived, if they worked, how they got to work and even if they got paid for working. Anybody who abuses this amount of control over the lives of others deserves to face the consequences. The GLA is very happy that this Appeal has been dismissed and Mr Paul has been told in no uncertain terms that this approach to business is totally abhorrent and cannot be allowed.”
Notes to editors:
A GLA led inspection into ELS in April uncovered:
• A worker has allegedly been assaulted by Mr Shamus Paul the Director of ELS Recruitment Ltd
• Workers had been threatened and verbally abused by Mr Paul and ELS staff
• On a regular basis hours were deducted from workers pay with no explanation. Workers were told if they complained they would be fired
• Workers reported being frightened when vans they travelled to and from work in, were often overcrowded leaving some workers on the floor whilst travelling at high speeds
• Workers were forced to use company transport and paid at least £4.50 each a day for the privilege anybody who did not use this transport was threatened with the sack. One worker stated they had to pay for transport even if they were not working
• Workers were told they would not be paid if they took holiday and there was no evidence that Statutory Sick pay had ever been paid
• Some workers were not given copies of their contracts. Contracts of other workers contained false details and signatures of the workers appear to have been forged by the agency. At least one worker was fired for questioning these details
• Although ELS were responsible for providing the workers with health and safety training no training was provided. One worker stated that the only training provided was “don’t lose your knife”
• Some workers who questioned these practices or complained were fired
The company had its licence revoked by the GLA with immediate effect in April and ELS appealed against it. However the appeal was decided June 26 2008 by an independent Appointed Person.
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