Britain’s largest union, Unite expressed fears that the move of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) to the Home Office announced by David Cameron today (Wednesday 9 April) could dilute the authority’s powers further.
Warning that the government is ‘no friend of working people’ Diana Holland, Unite assistant general secretary, said: “Unite has long called for a much tougher line to be taken on rogue employers. It cannot be that in modern Britain, unscrupulous employers find exploiting people so lucrative and have little fear of being caught and adequately punished.
“But a fine is a slap on the wrist, not a deterrent – the abusers must go to jail. Prosecutions must be made easier, but if workers are too scared they’ll face criminal proceeding themselves, then they will never step forward or blow the whistle on the crooks.”
Warning that the government’s ‘Red Tape’ challenge had weakened enforcement, she added: “The GLA has been hampered by this government. Last year, ministers 'deregulated' the legislation to ensure that first time licence applicants escaped inspection. This was playing fast and loose with worker safety to save business the inconvenience of having to demonstrate it is law-abiding.
“So let’s not pretend that this is a pro-worker move from a government that has taken apart employment rights, priced workers out of tribunals, is making it harder for workers to join unions and has allowed zero hours contracts with their `hire and fire’ culture to take hold.
“This government is no friend of working people.”
For further information please contact Unite head of media and campaigns Alex Flynn on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869.
Notes to editors
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.