02 October 2006 | Paul Snell
Up to 300 "gangmasters" are yet to apply for a licence to operate, a government agency has said.
Since 1 October it has been illegal for those who supply temporary labour in agriculture and food processing to operate without a licence.
The updated law could affect buyers as it also makes it illegal to employ an unlicensed gangmaster. Penalties for a breach are up to 10 years in prison and an unlimited fine.
However, Mike Wilson, chief executive of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA), said it should not take long to identify those who have not yet sought a licence.
About 1,000 gangmasters have registered for a licence since April, according to the GLA. Buyers will be able to check whether suppliers have been licensed on the GLA website at www.gla.gov.uk
Jack Dromey, deputy general secretary of the T&G, described the bodies that worked to introduce the law as a "remarkable coalition to end modern-day slavery".
But he also warned that rogue gangmasters might be moving into different sectors. "We have anecdotal evidence to suggest they are moving into the construction, hotel and cleaning industries," he said.