UCATT condemns partisan Tory Government proposals to go easy on exploitative gangmasters

Construction union UCATT has warned that the Government’s proposal to relax the licensing of gangmasters, will lead to greater exploitation and the mistreatment of workers by employment agencies.

The Government paper entitled “Tackling Exploitation in the Labour Market”, in response to a wide ranging consultation, proposes more ‘flexible’ licensing for gangmasters despite a majority of stakeholders, who replied to the consultation, completely disagreeing with the proposal.

The Government response makes a complete mockery of the consultation process.

In addition, there are proposals to create a whole new level of administration led by a Director of Labour Market Enforcement.

While UCATT has long called for the extension of the Gangmasters Act to cover the construction industry, this was on the basis of the existing licensing system which prevents exploitative agencies supplying labour in the first place and means that companies found to be mistreating workers can be swiftly stripped of their licence. A more flexible licence system is unlikely to create a crackdown on the unfair treatment of workers that the construction industry is crying out for.

In ignoring the findings of the consultation, this Tory Government once again shows its contempt for the ordinary worker. In the proposal it acknowledges the opinions of the respondents to the consultation on the importance of licensing but then cites that ‘others’ have a different opinion on licensing – and want greater flexibility.  

Who are these ‘others’ – we need to know their names? And why does their opinion carry such weight – outside the consultation?

The paper says “Many respondents agreed with this (an effective licensing regime) although we know that others are concerned about the need to balance this with reducing burdens on compliant businesses.”

Once again this Tory Government looks to favour the bosses over protecting the workers and is prepared to let the exploitation of the most vulnerable workers continue in order for employment agency bosses to make more money.

Brian Rye, Acting General Secretary of UCATT, said: “This proposal is a craven attempt to release employment agencies from the obligation of treating workers fairly. For ‘flexible licensing’ read ‘look the other way’.



Go to top