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UK authority investigation confirms worker exploitation

In response to the recent Channel 4 report about worker's conditions at a fruit packing farm in Kent, the Gangmasters Licensing Authority immediately responded by launching its own investigation into the Channel 4 findings.

Nine labour providers were inspected, along with 13 farms, factories, pack houses etc., to gather information about the claims given by 85 different workers in the GLA sector. As of 23 October, the GLA had identified 5 potential victims of human trafficking, fielded more than 160 licensing enquiries and added in excess of 200 items of intelligence to its database since these claims came to light in the media.

Recent claims involve citizens of several countries and the authority confirmed that a total of 42 calls were taken by the intelligence unit in English, Russian, Romanian,
Lithuanian and Polish- all reporting possible exploitation of workers in the GLA regulated sector of fresh produce processing and packaging, agriculture, horticulture and shellfish gathering.

“As well as the other items listed, six new alleged criminal offences involving labour exploitation were uncovered and will now be investigated along with the 70 current cases working their way through the legal system." said GLA Chief Executive Paul Broadbent.

“People assisted us with our enquiries across the entire UK with some of our officers also being deployed overseas to gather evidence against international organised criminals.”

As a result of the findings, officers have been negotiating repayment to a number of workers who had been underpaid by licensed labour providers.

At least 10 possible licence breaches were uncovered which are also being investigated. In addition, a gangmaster’s licence has been revoked and another had to apply to additional conditions to prevent exploitation.
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