It’s great news that the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) has intervened to stop a Scottish vegetable growing business from using workers provided to them by an unlicensed recruitment agency.
The GLAA served a Labour Market Enforcement Undertaking to the business based in Angus, north-east Scotland, which supplies vegetables to major supermarkets across the UK.
But it’s also worrying that this grower even thought that the use of unlicensed labour was allowed. The law is clear – the Gangmasters (Licensing Act) requires people to have a licence to provide workers to the fresh produce sector, and it’s a criminal offence to use an unlicensed provider - and there have been multiple warnings to growers and suppliers.
ETI would like to hear from the Angus grower to understand how this breakdown in procedure came about. Did the system fail in this case? Was the grower let down by its regular labour provider? Was there undue pressure from buyers?
Supermarkets need to be hypervigilant over these kinds of breaches of the law, so they can take action at an early stage and prevent abuses of this kind taking hold. Supermarkets have invested heavily in due diligence procedures, but the fact that this supplier slipped through the net shows how vital proactive and continuous surveillance is, along with a commitment to extend supply chain transparency beyond just the first and second tiers.