Community payback for Scottish gangmaster
29th May 2014
An Angus man who illegally supplied workers to a number of Scottish vegetable farms and paid them wages below the legal minimum was yesterday ordered to perform 180 hours of unpaid community work.
Rimantas Sulcas, of Hillview, Brechin, had pled guilty to the offence of acting as a gangmaster without a licence at an earlier hearing at Stonehaven Sheriff Court.
He was yesterday handed a Community Payback Order for 180 hours to be completed within a nine months period, or face being brought back to court and re-sentenced.
The 40-year-old’s offences took place over a period of more than two years starting in 2010 and involved providing workers for agricultural work at farms in Aberdeenshire and Angus.
Under the Gangmasters (Licensing) Act, it is a legal requirement that anyone who provides workers for roles in agriculture, horticulture, shellfish gathering or any associated processing or packaging requires a licence.
Sulcas began his illegal operations while working at Sootywells Farm, in Laurencekirk, in 2010.
At the time, he was asked if he knew of anyone else that might be able to assist in the grading process.
It was then he started to supply workers, which increased to as many as 16 people, who helped with the potato harvest.
Sulcas had no GLA licence and paid his employees at a rate that was below the legal minimum wage.
He also supplied workers to Mains of Logie Farm, in Logie by Montrose and provided another worker to Dendoldrum Farm, as well as providing more labour to Jacobsen, at Grange of Kineff, in Inverbervie.
Workers were paid in cash. No attempt was made by Sulcas to register as an employer with HMRC and pay the relevant tax and National Insurance contributions on behalf of his workers.
The court was also told that despite several attempts to speak to him in connection with the offence, Sulcas had not been prepared to be interviewed in relation to the offence.
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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.