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Gangmasters 'Exploiting Workers'

Health And Safety Legislation 'Ignored'


Gangmasters are exploiting workers by paying them below the minimum wage and ignoring health and safety legislation, a charity has said.

Oxfam said that workers also face abuse as the individuals and agencies who organise the supply of labour to employers are moving into poorly-controlled sectors such as care homes, hospitality and construction.

Bullying, harassment and physical violence are also suffered by the exploited workers, some of whom are being paid as little as £50 for seven days' work, the report found.

The Turning the Tide report called on the Government to extend the Gangmasters Licensing Act (GLA) to cover the sectors currently being exploited.

The GLA was created after the deaths of at least 21 Chinese cockle pickers in Morecambe Bay five years ago.

Kate Wareing, Oxfam's UK poverty director, said: "Gangmasters are now moving into poorly controlled sectors and we are seeing that abuse is rife on building sites, in hotels and care homes.

"The Government urgently needs to extend rules to curb gangmasters' abuse where workers have little or no protection."

Copyright © Press Association 2009

David Urpeth from law firm Irwin Mitchell said: “It is appalling that workers are being exploited in this day and age.

“I would echo the calls to extend the Gangmasters Licensing Act to include other appropriate industrial sectors.  In particular, I would like to see the construction industry covered by the Act given that the construction industry is the industrial sector where workers are most likely to be seriously injured or killed in a accident at work.”