GLAA action results in poultry firm closure

By Aidan Fortune

- Last updated on GMT

Gangmasters offences led to the closure of a chicken-catching business
Gangmasters offences led to the closure of a chicken-catching business
A Northern Ireland chicken-catching business will have to cease trading after having its Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) licence revoked.

Victor Foster Poultry Services Ltd was found to have breached the GLAA’s licensing standards in three critical areas, as well as not “being fit and proper”.

In a statement, GLAA found that the business was unwilling to comply with the standards and had shown a wholesale disregard for the licensing scheme.

Failure to provide rest

According to the GLAA, Victor Foster Poultry Services failed to show that its workers were being paid accurately and taking adequate rests during their shifts. On one occasion, it was found that a worker completed an 18-hour shift, then had under six hours as a break before he was back out for a 19-hour shift.

Workers also informed GLAA inspectors that they did not receive copies of their employment contracts.

Victor Foster Poultry Services had appealed the GLAA’s decision to revoke its licence, claiming that it was “disproportionate, as they had rectified all the issues highlighted during the inspection”.​ However, judge Peter Britton supported the GLAA’s position that compliance with the licensing standards must be demonstrated at the time of inspection, not at a later date.

Wind up the firm

Victor Foster Poultry Services has 28 days from the judge’s decision (10 October) to wind up the firm, with any trading after this date considered a criminal offence. It had been awarded the licence in 2006 to supply farm workers to catch chickens, which were then sent for processing and vaccination.

Commenting on the decision, GLAA head of licensing Charlotte Woodliffe said: “This is a tremendous result for our hard-working licensing and compliance teams. We are pleased that the judge upheld our original decision and agreed with our assessment that there were several key breaches of our licensing standards.

“We hope this result sends a strong message to businesses that are acting unlawfully within the sectors regulated by the GLAA. We will find out if you are breaching the standards and we will not hesitate to put you out of business when you are caught.”

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