The Gangmasters Alliance

The Gangmasters’ Alliance represents Gangmasters who source the workers employed on the farms and in the food factories throughout the UK.

Until 2004, little was known of Gangmasters and their work, which for the most part they did well under very difficult circumstances; in that year, however many Chinese Cockle Pickers were drowned on the sands at Morecombe and that changed everything. It was expedient for the media and the Government of the day, to link the men responsible for the deaths on the sands with the Gangmasters working in Agriculture. There was and never has been any similarity between the two industries, but that did not matter in hysteria which followed the accident.

As part of the gathering storm, a new regulatory body, the Gangmasters Licensing Authority started work. Many Gangmasters, as did the Gangmasters' Alliance supported the Gangmasters' Licensing Authority, but as time has progressed it has become obvious that unless the remit of the Authority is changed and the real problems facing the industry are addressed by parliament, the fresh food industry in the UK will be a thing of the past.

Two problems face this industry 
The rates paid by the Labour Users are so low, that in many cases even the statutory payments required by law cannot be paid by the Gangmaster. It is essential that the rates paid by the Labour User at least reflect the true cost of providing the Labour. It is essential that all Labour Users are made aware of minimum costs, and that they have a responsibility to ensure the provision of their labour is legally sustainable at the rates which they pay.  The Gangmasters' Alliance will actively address the minimum rates which a Labour User should expect to pay.

In addition to the low rates of pay it has become obvious that the Gangmasters' Licensing Authority has failed to properly consult the Gangmaster, preferring to align itself with the Supermarket, the farmer and the food factory, all of whom just pay lip service to the welfare of the worker.

The Gangmasters Licensing Authority  has failed by any measure, but not all the blame can be laid at its door. The Act was poorly drafted. Little or no power was given to the Authority to regulate the Labour User. In those rare cases where prosecution of the Labour User has been possible, the penalties handed down by the courts have been derisory. Gangmasters, on the other hand, have been hounded by the Gangmasters' Licensing Authority. Licences have been revoked and livelyhoods lost at the whim of an authority which seems neither to understand the industry it regulates nor cares whether the penalties are proportionate to the alleged offences.

Rates must rise and the Gangmasters' Licensing Authority must be reformed or go.

The time has come when Gangmasters must and will fight to save their industry.

We must seek the support of all Members of Parliament and the national media.

Join our campaign. We can win, but only if we fight.