More vulnerable employee markets will be protected thanks to a revamp of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA), says the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH).
Ministers have announced that the GLA will be reformed as the new Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA). It is still charged with combating the exploitation of workers but with increased powers.
IOSH was one of 93 bodies involved in the Government’s Tackling Exploitation in the Labour Market consultation. The Institution repeated calls for strengthening the powers of gangmaster licensing in its reply.
The Authority’s remit is being expanded to cover catering and other industries. IOSH has been calling for this for years along with its powers being amended to also cover the hospitality and construction sectors.
The Institution’s policy and public affairs head, Richard Jones, expressed its delight at ministers listening to their pleas. He said this shows that the Government intends to combat criminals across whatever trade they are operating in.
Ministers say several interested parties wanted the switch. They say the new-look authority’s activities will include investigating and preventing the exploitation of employees through every labour sector.
The Government says it is also committing to the authority being given police-like enforcement powers; a new director of labour market enforcement role being created; and sharing data between the new director, labour market enforcement organisations, the Intelligence Hub and other intelligence-gathering units.
Campaign a success
IOSH has been pushing for more to be done to make vulnerable employees across at-risk industries safer for the past 12 years following the Morecambe Bay tragedy of February 2004, which saw 23 China-born cockle pickers drowned when the rising tide trapped them.
Every one of them was working unlawfully, labouring for hours on end, picking cockles and sending their wages back to families in China.
The RNLI told the BBC that there had been a few previous near misses on the Lancashire bay’s Hest Bank stretch.
Date Published: January 27, 2016
Author: Jonathan Brown