Potato gangmaster loses licence over dangerous van

By Alice Foster contact

- Last updated on GMT

Scottish sole trader Sheila Wood had her licence revoked last month
Scottish sole trader Sheila Wood had her licence revoked last month

Related tags: Gla chief executive, Gangmasters licensing authority, Temporary labour working group

A gangmaster has lost her licence after underpaid workers were taken in a “dangerous” van to farms where they graded potatoes and picked daffodils.

Scottish sole trader Sheila Wood, 57, had her licence revoked last month after it emerged that she worked with convicted illegal gangmaster Rimantas Sulcas. 

Sulcas, who was convicted last year for unlicensed labour provision to potato farms, transported workers using a van found to have six faults in August.  

The Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) found that Woods failed to comply with a number of licensing standards which endangered her workers. 

‘Flagrant disregard’​ 

“This licence was revoked immediately because the holder exhibited a flagrant disregard for the wellbeing of her employees,”​ GLA chief executive Paul Broadbent said. 

“She transported them in a van after it was deemed ‘dangerous’ during an MOT inspection and failed seven other GLA licensing standards, which are there specifically to protect vulnerable workers. 

“She also appeared to lack the required skills and knowledge to run a compliant business and worked with a convicted illegal gangmaster – factors which both weighed heavily against her when making our decision.” 

Former headteacher​ 

Woods, a former headteacher from Drumlithie, Stonehaven, did not seek permission to work with Sulcas who was given a community payback order in May 2014 for providing unlicensed labour. 

GLA officers also found that her workers were not paid the overtime they were entitled to and their handwritten payslips were deemed unacceptable. 

Wood, who failed five critical and three non-critical standards, admitted in interview that she lacked the required competencies to run her business.

No appeal was lodged against the decision to revoke her licence.

Ruling from Gangmasters Licensing Authority

“This licence was revoked immediately because the holder exhibited a flagrant disregard for the wellbeing of her employees.”​ 

  • GLA chief executive Paul Broadbent, chief executive at the Gangmasters Licensing Authority 

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