Page last updated at 23:45 GMT, Wednesday, 7 May 2008 00:45 UK

'Gangmaster' has licence revoked

The GLA found that workers were paid 4p for each bunch they picked

The Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) has revoked the licence of a company that it claimed imposed "forced labour" conditions on migrant workers.

The authority said it took the action after discovering a catalogue of low-pay, overcrowding and threats.

Around 200 people, mainly from Poland, were taken to Scotland by a Suffolk-based company to pick flowers in Angus.

Gangmaster Jonathan Beckson said he planned to appeal against the GLA's decision.

Mr Beckson, of Timberland Homes Recruitment, said he had not been contacted by the GLA to tell him his licence had been revoked.

'Small number'

He added that he employed more than 400 workers, many of whom came back year-on-year and claimed that the complaints centred around a small number of workers.

The GLA said some workers had told them that they earned 24 for a nine-hour day, receiving four pence per bunch of flowers picked.

There is another world out there that the vast majority of us are lucky enough not to see
Paul Whitehouse

The investigation found that some of the accommodation did not have enough beds or toilets for the numbers housed there.

The GLA also said that workers had received a letter telling them they were not free to leave before the end of their contract without paying 700 and, if they did not have the money, this would be recovered from their families in their home country.

Paul Whitehouse, chairman of the GLA, said: "There is another world out there that the vast majority of us are lucky enough not to see.

"Forced labour, intimidation and abuse at work is something nobody should experience but we are uncovering it too frequently."

He added that the information had been passed to the UK Human Trafficking Centre.

Almost 1,200 gangmasters are now licensed to operate legally in the UK.

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Jonathan Beckson plans to appeal

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29 Apr 08 |  Tayside and Central
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29 Jan 08 |  South of Scotland
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