23 August 2007 | Paul Snell
Unlicensed gangmasters are moving into different industries, having been forced out of the agriculture and farming sectors, says the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA).
It follows anecdotal evidence from trade unions that rogue gangmasters are moving into unregulated areas to avoid controls introduced by the Gangmasters Licensing Act last year (Web news, 2 October
The GLA said it had details of seven temporary labour suppliers who are now providing workers in the construction, hospitality and social care sectors. But it added it knew of more operating in these sectors.
The act was introduced to regulate the supply of temporary labour to the agriculture, horticulture and shellfish industries to protect workers from exploitation.
Paul Whitehouse, chairman of the GLA, said: "There is no visibility in [unregulated] sectors. There is nothing we can do, except collect the evidence. It is a matter for the government to consider the GLA's remit, but the problems couldn't be taken on all at once.
"But it is difficult from a moral point of view how this can apply in one sector and not in them all."
A forum including the GLA, trade unions and business groups, such as the CBI, has been set up to see if the issue should be addressed. But the body that represents the recruitment industry said it was too early to extend the agency's remit. "It will be important to evaluate the effectiveness of the current licensing scheme before discussing any possible extension," said Tom Hadley, director of external relations at the Recruitment and Employment Confederation.