06 February 2009 | Paul Snell
The Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) is to toughen up the sanctions and standards it applies from April this year.
The changes will not introduce any new legal requirements for gangmasters, but the GLA will take a more rigorous approach to carrying out investigations and penalising rogue traders.
The announcement comes on the fifth anniversary of the Morecambe Bay tragedy, when 23 Chinese cockle pickers, drowned. The gangmaster responsible for the Chinese workers was later sentenced to 14 years in prison.
Following the tragedy the GLA was established to licence gangmasters in the food processing industry, to introduce standards and tackle rogues.
Alterations to the regime include disqualifying gangmasters for two years when they are not considered fit to hold a licence. There are plans to widen investigation procedures to examine the background and track record of individuals involved in the business.
There will also be an expansion of the "fit and proper person" test to catch those people who try to exercise control over workers but are not named on the licence.
"During our first phase of operations we faced a variety of scams and efforts to deceive us. We now know what we need to do to put these rogues out of business," said GLA chairman Paul Whitehouse. "There are no new legal requirements in these standards so well run businesses will not be affected."