Shane Brimstone of Fortview Park, Kesh, County Fermanagh was brought before Enniskillen Magistrates’ Court, following an investigation by the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) into the supply of workers to an abattoir in Somerset and two meat processing plants based in the north-west of England.
The GLAA found that Brimstone had picked up job adverts within the meat industry and advertised them on his Facebook page. From there, he contacted the companies involved and agreed terms to place the workers with them.
Not guilty plea
Brimstone initially pleaded not guilty to one of the counts, as the workers did not turn up to one of the sites in question. However, district judge Steven Keown accepted the GLAA’s argument that Brimstone had acted as an unlicensed gangmaster having arranged, and been paid £1,500 for, the supply of the workers in question.
Ultimately, Brimstone pleaded guilty to three counts of acting as an unlicenced gangmaster and was fined £3,500.
GLAA senior investigating officer Martin Plimmer said: “The GLAA operates a rigorous licensing system to create a level playing field in the supply of workers in the fresh produce and food processing sectors.
Credible licensing scheme
“Tackling unlicensed criminal activity and ensuring that GLAA licence holders abide by the regulations is a key priority for our organisation. We will not hesitate to take appropriate action to maintain a credible licensing scheme and protect vulnerable workers.”
It is an offence to use labour provided by unlicensed gangmasters. This offence carries a maximum penalty of six months in prison and a fine.
Meanwhile, Government plans to allow 800 foreign abattoir workers into the UK on temporary visas will address immediate issues, but larger labour issues still need to addressed, warned members of the industry.