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gangmaster


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Is a labour-only sub-contractor who typically provides low-skilled labour to perform short-term or seasonal tasks. Many workers recruited by gangmasters are migrants and there is a tradition of low pay and poor conditions in this type of work. Following the tragic deaths of Chinese cocklepickers in Morecambe Bay, the UK Parliament passed the Gangmasters' Licensing Act 2004. The Act created the Gangmasters Licencing Authority, which is charged with maintaining a register of gangmasters operating in agriculture, horticulture, shellfish gathering, and associated processing and packaging industries (other industrial sectors are explicitly excluded). All gangmasters operating in these industries must secure a licence, which is dependent on their complying with a set of business and employment standards. The latter include having mechanisms in place to collect income tax and National Insurance Contributions, a payroll and rates of pay that are at least at the level of the National Minimum Wage, a procedure for recording hours of work, disciplinary and grievance procedures, and arrangements for safe working, including provision of appropriate training. If there is evidence of coercive or exploitative labour practices, including unlawful deductions from wages, retention of passports, or harassment and abuse, then a licence can be withheld or withdrawn. The Authority is empowered to inspect gangmasters both at the point of application for a licence and subsequently to ensure compliance. It is unlawful to operate as a labour-provider in the designated industries without a licence and it is also unlawful to make use of an unlicensed gangmaster. Potentially, large retail companies and food manufacturers could face criminal prosecutions if they have made use of unlicensed gangmasters in their supply chains.

Subjects: Human Resource Management.


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