London Conservative's call to extend gangmasters licensing in conflict with Government policy

Construction union UCATT have noted the paradox between a report by a senior Conservative politician calling for the extension of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority to cover sectors including the construction industry, at the same time the Conservative-led Government is reducing the organisations powers.

Andrew Boff the Leader of the Conservative group on the London Assembly has published a report called Shadow City: Human Trafficking in Everyday London. Mr Boff’s comprehensive report focusses on the high level of human trafficking that occurs in industries which use a large amount of casual labour such as construction.

Mr Boff’s report recommends that: “The mayor should call for the remit of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) to be extended into the hospitality and construction sectors so that it effectively tackles labour trafficking in London.”

Mr Boff’s report has been published at a time when the GLA is experiencing a reduction in its powers. The Government as part of its Red Tape Challenge has reduced the ability of the GLA to make physical inspections of companies applying for a licence to supply labour, instead they have introduced a “light touch” approach to licence applications.

Earlier this year the Government also completed a consultation with the intention of removing forestry, land agents and cleaning contractors operating in the food processing industry from the scope of the GLA.

Steve Murphy, General Secretary of UCATT, said: “This highlights the dysfunctional nature of the Conservatives. On the one hand the out of touch Government is reducing the powers of the GLA. While on the other leading Conservative politicians are rightly calling for an extension of its powers to areas such as construction.”

The Labour Party is committed to extending the Gangmasters Licensing Authority to construction and other sectors in order to reduce the exploitation faced by many British and migrants workers.

A report by the Serious Organised Crime Agency published in August recorded that of the 507 potential victims of labour human trafficking encountered in 2012, 29% were working in block paving/tarmacking. A further 2% were employed in general construction.

Mr Murphy added: “There is growing evidence about the level of exploitation that exists in the construction industry. The common sense solution to end exploitation is for the GLA to be extended to construction as soon as possible.”


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