Labour firm loses licence after raid

A labour provider that supplied staff to Evesham-based onion and leek packing firm Simms & Wood has had its licence revoked by the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA).

A to Z Employment Services of Sparkhill, Birmingham, had its licence revoked with immediate effect following an unannounced raid of Simms & Wood by GLA officers on 11 December.

The raid led to the discovery of non-compliances by three labour providers including A to Z Employment Services - which was forced to stop trading or face prosecution - and two other gangmasters that have also had their licences revoked, but without immediate effect.

This means that, unlike A to Z, these businesses can continue to trade until the appeals process has been exhausted.

The main reasons the GLA gave for revoking A to Z Employment Services' licence with immediate effect were:

- the use of an illegal and non-roadworthy minibus to transport staff to work;

- the boss of the agency instructing a worker to put cling-film on a serious cut and to continue working on a production line.

GLA chairman Paul Whitehouse said: "When the boss of the agency tells a worker to put a bit of cling-film on a serious cut and get back to work processing food, you have to question if they should be allowed to run a business.

"The GLA is determined to root out worker exploitation."

He added: "We cannot allow an agency that puts its workers at risk to continue trading. The GLA was set up to protect workers and we are also providing a service to the law-abiding businesses that spend time and money to ensure the welfare of their workers."

The GLA was joined by West Mercia Constabulary and the Border & Immigration Agency as part of the operation. Other issues uncovered during the operation included the lack of an accurate record of the number or identity of workers employed at the warehouse.

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