Industry Profiles - Food Processing and Production - 2020
Here we look at labour exploitation in the food processing and production industry and the headline trends for this sector including victim profiles, location, how they are recruited and which sectors are most at risk.
Victims are predominantly male, although groups of workers consisting of both genders are often reported. Victims tend to be under the age of 35 years and Romanian nationals .
Workers who have difficultly communicating in English are reportedly targeted by exploiters. There is limited reporting of irregular migrants working in the sector.
Various locations reported but most commonly in the Eastern and East Midlands regions.
Recruitment via a gangmaster/ labour provider is widely reported, including those not licensed by the GLAA, based both in the UK and overseas.
Social media and the wider internet are both commonly used to advertise vacancies.
Highest volume of reports concerns the meat processing industry, largely poultry.
Transport to the UK
Methods of transportation to the UK are not often reported. Where known, this tends to be arranged by the exploiter by bus, coach or aeroplane.
Accommodation is often provided by the exploiter and usually in a shared residential property. There are limited reports of victims sleeping at their place of work. Accommodation is often reported as being substandard and/or overcrowded. Allegations include hot bedding with other workers.
Withheld wages are most frequently reported, this includes not being paid for inductions, holidays or overtime.
Also, reports of workers having no access to their bank account wages.
There are concerns over health and safety - for example lack of training and PPE. There also reports of debt bondage which may arise from work-finding or job-retention fees.
Access to labour is a key factor going forward; the pandemic and points-based immigration system may have an impact on this.
Key questions to prevent and identify labour exploitation
• How do you ensure workers on site know their rights in the workplace, including how much they should be paid?
• Do you know and understand each level of your supply chain? Do you conduct background checks?
• Do you have a code of conduct for factories/suppliers? Are there regular audits to identify and address any exploitative labour practices?
• Do you have any additional due diligence checks for workers at risk of being exploited? Including access to translation services?
• Do members of your organisation receive training on spotting the signs of modern slavery and labour exploitation?
• Has your organisation undertaken a modern slavery / labour exploitation risk assessment?
• Do you have an internal escalation process if you identify an issue of exploitation? Do you know who to contact?
What to consider when reporting intelligence
Example: Current employees are charging money for employment at a food production site. They are reputed to be dangerous.
What further information may be useful?
Provide full details about the potential exploiters.
- Do you know what language they speak or what nationality they are?
- How many workers are affected?
- Are they of a certain nationality or demographic?
- Are there specific threats that have been made?
- Any indications of physical violence?
- Are the potential exploiters also providing accommodation and transport to workers?
- How much money is being charged, and how regularly?
Whilst not all factors may be known, any additional details will assist the GLAA in identifying people and locations involved for operational purposes and to improve our intelligence picture.
GLAA resources are available including our Spotting the Signs leaflet.
More information about Food Processing is available at https://www.gla.gov.uk/i-am-a/i-supply-workers/do-i-need-a-glaa-licence/which-activities-need-a-licence/processing-packaging/
Who to contact
Please report to the GLAA:
• Unlicensed trading in the regulated sector (agriculture, horticulture, shellfish gathering and any associated processing and packaging) across the UK.
• Labour market offences (non-payment of the National Minimum Wage, breach of Employment Agency Standards) in the regulated sector in England and Wales
• Individuals, labour users or labour providers who are suspected of modern slavery and human trafficking in any labour industry (excluding sexual exploitation), or individuals who are potential victims of such activity in England and Wales.
Please report to partners:
• Issues of National Minimum Wage only, in sectors that are not GLAA regulated to the HMRC NMW team (https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/hm-revenue-customs/contact/national-minimum-wage-enquiries-and-complaints)
• Health and safety issues only (all sectors) to the Health and Safety Executive (http://www.hse.gov.uk/contact/concerns.htm)
• Workplace relations and employment law issues (including contract issues, discrimination and grievances) to the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) (https://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=1410)
• When there is an immediate threat to life contact the police emergency number.
• To report labour exploitation, human trafficking or modern slavery outside of the regulated sectors in Northern Ireland or Scotland, contact the local police service.