GLA action shocks supermarkets

Watchdog revokes labour providers' licences

By Sophie Barnett Supermarket chains have reacted with shock to the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) action to revoke the licences of labour-providers supplying Bomfords. The GLA took the action against all seven of the labour agencies supplying the food processor’s packhouses at Atherstone, Salford Priors and Pershore. One was the GLA’s first-ever revocation with immediate effect. Dynamic Workforce, based in Smethwick, West Midlands, had its licence revoked with immediate effect due to GLA concerns about the immediate health and safety of workers. The action meant Dynamic Workforce had to stop trading immediately or face further action if it operated without a licence. The other six unnamed labour providers can continue providing labour until an appeal decision has been heard by an independent appeals body, or until the period to make an appeal lapses. Bomfords, which would not comment about the revocations, supplies supermarkets including Asda, Sainsbury’s and Tesco. A Tesco representative said: “We are urgently investigating these serious allegations.” Asda commented: “We are shocked to hear about these allegations and have immediately begun an investigation.” Sainsbury’s added: “We are working with our supplier to understand and resolve any issues with [its] licensed labour providers.” GLA chairman Paul Whitehouse said: “Revoking a licence with immediate effect is a serious decision and is only taken when we find significant non-compliance. The GLA was set up to curb the exploitation of workers and in the case of Dynamic Workforce we had to take action immediately. “We have shown we are conducting unannounced operations and we will continue to do so. I’d advise all businesses operating with a licence to maintain continuous compliance with the GLA standards or they will meet the same action.” Senior organiser Martin Hird of Britain’s general union GMB said: “This should send a clear message to all employment agencies that do not comply with legislation to protect workers against exploitation.”

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