The Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) has urged food manufacturers to more closely monitor their labour providers, after Operation Trafalgar, its latest investigation, found several agencies operating illegally, despite having a licence.
“For their own piece of mind manufacturers should be making checks on labour providers, even when they are licensed,” said a GLA spokesman. “It is extremely likely that more than one licence will be revoked as a result of Operation Trafalgar.”
The project involved interviews with a cross-section of salad and vegetable workers supplied by labour providers.
A parsnip and carrot processing and packaging firm now risks losing 300 agency staff after the investigation found the firm’s labour provider was withholding workers’ passports and underpaying them. The evidence has been sent to the GLA’s head of licensing and a decision will be taken this month.
“Since firm evidence is needed before we can revoke a licence, worker exploitation can occur before we are able to step in,” said the GLA. “This creates a potential risk for businesses using their labour. If exploited workers are being supplied to a labour user, links, however unfair, can be made - especially in the media. This may test even the strongest relationships with customers.”