GCA scraps licence of UK's 'worst gangmaster' after he totals 242 failure points

A gangmaster in Lancashire who employed Latvian workers to pick fruit has been branded "the worst gangmaster in the UK" by the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA).

Jose Rosa tallied up a record number of failure points for the mistreatment of his workers. His failures totalled 242 points in non compliances - when 30 would have been enough to lose his gangmaster's licence.

The GLA immediately revoked his licence after discovering this "catalogue of failures". It said in a statement: "A group of more than 30 Latvian fruit pickers was subjected to appalling treatment that kept them trapped in the employment of Mr Rosa.

"The workers did not receive minimum wage and deductions left at least one owing the gangmaster money after a month of toiling in the fields. If the workers needed money they were given loans with a repayment rate of six per cent."

Rosa was the director of Plus Staff 24, based in Skelmersdale.

But a previously revoked gangmaster named Maria Baptista lurked in the background. This raised suspicions that Rosa, who used to operate as a driver for her, was acting as a front so that she could continue her exploitative ways.

West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper said: "I am calling on all the authorities to use every power they have to ensure companies are operating according to and within the law. No-one should be exploited in such a greed-driven and cynical way. These practices belong to history, not in the 21st century."

GLA chairman Paul Whitehouse added: "This is a flagrant abuse of power over workers. When a human being has worked hard for a month and gets paid nothing after deductions and even owes the gangmaster money, how are they supposed to survive?"

He continued: "We have serious concerns over the involvement of Maria Baptista, who was operating in the background of this business. She has had a GLA licence revoked and any future attempt to obtain a licence will be subject to very close scrutiny. Any other gangmaster thinking of employing her would be well advised to think again."

Issues uncovered by licencing authority

  • Charges for transport, accommodation and registration reduced pay to below national minium wage
  • Deductions not included on wage slip but were hidden on separate document
  • Workers lived in filthy and dangerous houses
  • Holiday entitlement and sick pay not recorded or not been paid despite being included in terms and conditions
  • Workers ferried to fields in uninsured minibus sometimes driven by an underage driver
  • Rosa lied to GLA when he claimed former revoked gangmaster Maria Baptista was working for him for free
  • The methods of deducting money from the workers exactly mimicked the methods used at Maria Baptista's previous business
  • Rosa also failed the competence and capability test to hold a GLA licence
  • If Plus Staff 24 continues to supply workers without a licence to the regulated sectors, the GLA will take prosecution action.

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