The worker – a Hungarian national, in his late 50s – was discovered by investigators during a dawn raid by the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) in Oldham yesterday (December 19).
The man claimed he was forced to work without pay for the past six years, while living in an attic room, according to the GLAA.
He told officials he was set to work in the factory and to collect scrap metal, while being denied access to the wages paid into his bank account.
During the raid, GLAA, Greater Manchester Police and immigration enforcement officers made three arrests at two addresses in Oldham in connection with possible offences under the Modern Slavery Act.
Made three arrests
A 22-year-old man and a 23-year-old woman – both originally from Hungary – were arrested at a property in the Greenacres area. A 60-year-old Hungarian male was arrested at a separate address nearby.
The raid was staged after concerns were raised by supervisors at the food factory about the condition of a second man, aged 66, who was being driven to and from work by one of the suspects. The man has been relocated from the Oldham area, after agreeing to enter the government’s National Referral Mechanism (NRM) for Potential Victims of Trafficking.
Senior investigating officer Martin Plimmer said: “This appears to be another case of opportunists preying on vulnerable fellow countrymen and exploiting them for their labour.
‘Exploited for a considerable period of time’
“While we are still in the very early stages of this investigation we appear to have uncovered two victims – one of whom claims to have been exploited for a considerable period of time.”
The officer said investigations would continue to gather evidence to ensure that justice was done.
Inspector John Harrison, from the Manchester Immigration, Compliance and Enforcement Team, said: “All Immigration Enforcement officers are trained to identify potential victims of modern slavery and trafficking. Our front line role means we are ideally placed to identify where someone may have been trafficked and refer these cases for further action.
“Today’s operation sends a strong message and we will continue to work with law enforcement partners like the GLAA to tackle those who seek to exploit vulnerable people.”
The three suspects are helping the police and immigration officials with their enquiries.