GLA revokes Dudley gangmaster’s licence

By Rod Addy

- Last updated on GMT

The exploited workers were employed to pick Brussels sprouts
The exploited workers were employed to pick Brussels sprouts

Related tags Minimum wage

A gangmaster has lost her licence after what a judge described as “a serious dereliction of duty” in her treatment of workers picking peas and Brussels sprouts.

Sahra Rizwan, md of A N Recruitment Ltd, appealed against the Gangmaster Licensing Authority’s (GLA’s) decision to revoke the licence of that company in May last year.

But all of the GLA’s findings were upheld by an appointed judge at the Birmingham court, meaning she would be stripped of her licence after all.

The organisation found evidence that showed the agricultural staff Rizwan employed were not having their ‘piece-rate’ pay made up to National Minimum Wage levels if they failed to reach them. The business also failed a number of other GLA standards, it said.

Lacked competencies

The authority determined that Rizwan – the Principal Authority named on the licence – lacked the competencies required to run the business compliantly.

The GLA also discovered she was working for a firm of accountants for three days a week, while one of her supervisors and the farmer she supplied her workers to dictated their pay.

“Our findings suggested we had uncovered a case of someone being put up merely to act as ‘a front’ for a business – and the appeal judge fully backed our assessment,”​ said GLA ceo Paul Broadbent.

“Though run and licensed in Mrs Rizwan’s name, it soon became apparent she had very little control over the day-to-day running of this company – primarily because she was working elsewhere for the majority of each week.

“She lacked much of the basic knowledge we would expect an md to know about her company’s operations – like the hourly rates her business charged to provide field workers to a farm.”

Critical requirements

A N Recruitment did not pass the GLA’s competency test and underpaid employees, both critical requirements that would have disqualified her from obtaining a gangmaster licence. It also failed a third critical standard by not offering holiday pay, the GLA reported.

In addition, insufficient risk assessments were carried out, necessary protective equipment was not provided and training documents were only made available in English, which most workers could not read, said the GLA.

Commenting on Rizwan’s running of A N Recruitment, Judge Victoria Dean said in her verdict: “The Principal Authority must remain compliant with the Licensing Standards at all times and is required and should be prepared to face the consequences if she is not.

“The appellant’s failures, particularly in relation to the critical standards, are a serious dereliction of duty and to allow her simply to rectify those matters would undermine entirely the ethos of the legislation. The decision of the GLA shall stand.”

The GLA has won 94% of appeals against its decisions and has not lost a case since April 2010.

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