No National Minimum Wage for Exploited Farm Gangs

A multi-agency investigation reveals exploitation of migrant agricultural workers

An investigation in Cornwall has found nine licenced gangmasters violating standards.

The gangmasters, who employ migrant workers in agricultural roles, have violated a number of standards aimed at protecting the welfare and rights of agricultural workers.

The investigation, Operation Westport, found that workers were not being paid the National Minimum Wage, their pay was below the Agricultural Minimum Wage and charges for accommodation were excessive.

In one case workers were each being charged a £12 daily transport charge for a 3-mile journey and a number of vehicles, mainly minibuses, were not roadworthy.

In addition the Polish, Lithuanian, Latvian & Bulgarian labourers were not supplied with health & safety equipment and had to purchase their own gear.

The Gangmaster Licencing Authority, which was set up to protect the rights of workers after 23 Chinese cockle pickers died in Morecambe Bay in 2004, sets standards for employing agricultural workers and has issued over 1100 licences.

Breaking the authority standards, including failing to pay the National Minimum Wage, have resulted in the revocation of 47 licences to date.

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