FG BUY&SELL        FARMERS WEATHER        LAMMAXCHANGE        CROPTEC       LAMMASHOW        BRITISH FARMING AWARDS      AGRIMONEY        ABOUT BRIEFING MEDIA
Arable
Livestock
Dairy
Machinery
Business
Shows
Editor's Pick
Getting started
Prices
Farm life
Advice
Reviews
Competitions
Campaigns
Columnists
What's on
0 Filters Selected
Clear Filters
Arable
Livestock
Dairy
Machinery
Business
Shows
Editor's Pick
Getting started
Prices
Farm life
Advice
Reviews
Competitions
Campaigns
Columnists
What's on

You are viewing 1 of your 5 free articles

Register or Subscribe Now

You’ll need to join us by registering or subscribing to gain complete access.
Already a Member? Login

Gangmaster Licensing Authority under fire after 'extreme exploitation' revealed

News

05 Nov 2012

BY Alistair Driver

Share
Twitter Facebook
A major UK food company has questioned the effectiveness of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) after a company licensed by the authority was accused of ‘extreme exploitation’ of its workers.

Last week the GLA announced it had revoked the licence of DJ Houghton Catching Services Limited with immediate effect following a joint operation with Kent police.

 

The Maidstone based firm used gangs of workers to catch chickens at farms across the UK. These farms supplied premium free range eggs to McDonald’s, Tesco, Asda and M&S, ‘Woodland’ eggs to Sainsbury’s, and the RSPCA Freedom Food and Noble Foods Happy Eggs brands, according to a report in the Guardian.

 

Neil Court of GLA described it as ‘one of the worse cases of exploitation the GLA has ever uncovered in the food supply chain’.

 

Evidence obtained by the GLA in operations around Kent identified that the mainly Lithuanian workers were subjected to threats and physical violence, housed in overcrowded accommodation, and lived in a climate of fear.

 

The workers were also charged excessive job finding fees, had pay stopped for the most spurious reasons and had to work without proper health and safety equipment, the GLA said.

 

In addition to the action by the GLA, Kent Police arrested two individuals on suspicion of human trafficking offences.

 

The GLA said its investigation found those workers ‘suffered exploitation so extreme’ that it had to order the firm to stop supplying workers to farms and food factories immediately.

 

“Together these issues demonstrated to the GLA that D J Houghton Catching Services Limited breached so many of the licence conditions that continued operation would have been totally unacceptable, resulting in the decision to revoke the licence,” the GLA said.

 

Noble Foods, one of the companies supplied by farms that used the gangmaster, said it was ‘shocked and saddened’ by reports of the exploitation by the company and stressed that it takes the matter ‘extremely seriously’.

 

But it said it would only ever use companies approved by both the GLA and Freedom Food for this type of work and questioned why the company was licensed in the first place and why it took so long for the licence to be revoked.

 

“It is our understanding that it is exactly the role of the GLA to protect companies such as ours against poor gang master practise via their licensing system,” a Noble Foods spokesman said.

 

“As soon as we were made aware of the action taken by Kent police we ceased using the organisation involved. This was approximately four weeks ago. We note their actual license was not revoked until Monday evening (October 29) this week.”

 

Noble Foods said the work the Kent labour supplier carried out for it has been moved to other GLA and Freedom Food suppliers.

 

“We are seeking assurances from all concerned in the approval process that any company we use is appropriately audited and approved as we have always previously been assured,” the spokesperson said.

 

“We will continue to do everything in our power to ensure the suppliers we use operate to the highest standards of both human and animal welfare.”

 

The RSPCA said DJ Houghton Catching Services had been suspended from the Freedom Food scheme as of October 30th 2012, pending the outcome of ongoing legal proceedings.

 

“Should these shocking allegations regarding workers at the site prove to be true, then the business’s membership of Freedom Food will be withdrawn,” the charity said in a statement.

 

“It is the direct responsibility of any Freedom Food member to ensure that they and their staff adhere to the required RSPCA animal welfare standards. If this is found not to be the case through the scheme’s monitoring of adherence to the standards, then a member can be removed from the scheme.”

 

Mr Court said: “The GLA remains committed to tackling the worst offenders, ensuring that those companies and individuals that are intent on exploiting workers are prevented from holding a GLA licence, or have their licence revoked.”

 

Meanwhile, an appeal by one of the farmers caught up in the long-running dairy farmer gangmaster case is due to be heard at the Bristol Civil Justice Centre on Tuesday (November 6).

 

Ken Moss, from Moss and Sons in Slimbridge, is appealing against his conviction in March for entering into an agreement with an unlicensed labour provider. He was given an absolute discharge and was not handed any penalty but was ordered to pay costs.

 

Mr Moss is one of 17 farmers still caught up in the case.

Post a Comment
You must log in to comment.

More Articles

South Devons make debut at Livestock Event

South Devons make debut at Livestock Event

Vip

Share
TwitterFacebook
This year the Livestock Event will be hosting the South Devon Performance Championship for the first time where the Hadley family will be exhibiting a team of cattle.

Author Focus

Alistair Driver
Political editor
There is never a dull moment as Farmers Guardian’s political editor. There is always something happening that affects farmers, whether it is the chaos of the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the battle over bovine TB, a ferocious debate over Red Tractor or the latest bombshell from Brussels.
Cows escape after thieves botch farm gate theft

Cows escape after thieves botch farm gate theft

News

10 Oct 2014

Share
TwitterFacebook
Botched attempted theft of a field gate led to animals escaping on to the road.
Fire destroys 1,500t of straw in Kent

Fire destroys 1,500t of straw in Kent

News

01 Jul 2014

Share
TwitterFacebook
Investigations are underway after a fire destroyed 1,500 tonnes of oilseed rape straw at a farm in Kent.
Future of Gangmaster Licensing Authority under review

Future of Gangmaster Licensing Authority under review

News

01 Dec 2012

Share
TwitterFacebook
The future of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) is unclear, after Jim Paice said talks were taking place about moving it out of Defra’s control.
National rural crime plan launched to protect communities

National rural crime plan launched to protect communities

News

05 Mar 2014

Share
TwitterFacebook
Two of Britain’s largest national crime-fighting organisations have joined forces to crack down on rural criminals.
LOAD MORELoad More

Site Feedback

Full Name:
Email Address:
Contact Telephone:
Your Comments:

Subscribe

Become a Farmers Guardian VIP Member

•  FG delivered direct to your door  •  Free App access  

•  VIP access throughout FG Insight  •  Exclusive VIP email newsletter

Follow Us

FG Insight and FGInsight.com are trademarks of Briefing Media Ltd.
Farmers Guardian and FarmersGuardian.com are trademarks of Farmers Guardian Ltd, a subsidiary of Briefing Media Ltd.
All material published on FGInsight.com and FarmersGuardian.com is copyrighted © 2015 by Briefing Media Limited. All rights reserved.
Google+