Pre-emptive strike ahead of weeklong operations in the South West
24th February 2010
Exploitative gangmasters linked to new revocation The GLA have tightened their grip on gangmasters supplying this year‟s flower picking season, by revoking a licence before the season began.
Whilst the last two years have seen serious cases of exploitation, the GLA together with many within the industry have got together to try and ensure that the problems are uncovered and dealt with early to avoid a repeat in 2010.
The proactive action taken by the industry in conjunction with the GLA led to the immediate revocation of Lincolnshire based Powerstaff Recruitment Limited, who were found to be employing Jonathan Beckson whose own licence was revoked in 2008 following serious exploitation and threats and Ms Magdalena Gojtowska a known associate of Mr Beckson who herself was found to be influencing a number of businesses who had their licences revoked in 2009.
Mr David Quinn of Powerstaff could not demonstrate an understanding of how to run the Spalding based gangmaster business and openly admitted he leant heavily on Mr Beckson. Whilst Mr Quinn was supposed to be in charge of the business, the GLA were convinced he was not and felt he was being used as a front to allow previously banned gangmasters back into the industry.
Mr Quinn‟s business had been trying to source contracts to supply workers for the current flower picking season in Devon and Cornwall. Ms Gojtowska and Mr Beckson had previously supplied labour during the flower picking season.
The GLA is this week on operations in the South West. A further statement will be issued at the conclusion of operations.
Paul Whitehouse, Chairman of the GLA said
“The actions of the flower industry and especially some of the big suppliers is a model that should be followed elsewhere. They have worked proactively with the GLA to ensure that the industry is no longer tarnished by exploitation of workers”.
“We have banned these people from supplying workers in GLA sectors for a good reason and we cannot allow them to find a back-door route to continue. They have a history of serious exploitation and it is our job to protect workers”.
Mr Quinn has been declared as no "fit and proper‟ to hold a GLA licence, and banned from holding a licence for at least two years.
Notes to editors
1. The Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) was set up to curb the exploitation of workers in the agricultural, horticultural, shellfish gathering and associated processing and packing industries.
2. The majority of workers involved in these industries come from countries such as: Romania, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Latvia, Pakistan and Portugal.
3. So far, 1,168 labour providers hold a GLA licence. Over 100 licenses have been revoked (10 with immediate effect).
4 The GLA has recently received funding from Communities and Local Government Department for a number of local enforcement officer posts. Fourteen on these new enforcement posts will be spread across England and at least one of these posts will be permanently based in the South West to ensure that worker abuse is stamped out in the region.
5. Paul Whitehouse, GLA Chairman, is available for interview by contacting 0115 900 8962
6. Anybody who is aware of exploitation should contact the GLA on 0845 602 5020 or report anonymously at www.gla.gov.uk/report
Public enquiries: 0845 602 5020
Media enquiries: 0115 900 8962