Gangmasters who ignore safety ‘responsible for construction industry deaths’

June 11, 2009 at 12:24 pm 2 comments

buildingsite
by Anna Rutter

The provisions of the Gangmasters Licensing Act 2004 should be applied to the construction industry in order to protect migrant workers who come to the country in search of legitimate work, Labour MP Jim Sheridan said yesterday.

Introducing his Ten Minute Rule Bill, entitled ‘Gangmasters Licensing Act 2004 (Amendment) Bill, Mr Sheridan praised the Government for previous legislation that had been passed to flush out those who were exploiting both migrant and indigenous workers, but explained to the House that gangmasters had since moved to the construction trade.

Since 2007, there had been 120 fatal accidents in the industry, with evidence that illegal gangmasters had supplied unskilled labour to construction companies and their subcontractors to carry out dangerous work without taking into consideration the safety consequences, he said.

These gangmasters undermined the legitimate employers who were investing in training and paying their taxes as well as damaged small businesses who were struggling to survive and compete.

On the financial implications, he argued that the Government had a vested interest in giving serious consideration to require gangmasters to be tax compliant and follow the VAT registration rules.

In 2007 alone, the Gangmasters Licensing Authority identified more than £2 million in extra VAT payments for the Exchequer, he added.

“Members of the House should also be aware of the serious matter of community unrest,” he said.

“Where genuine workers see others doing their work and not contributing to the community or wider society, social unrest and frustration is generated.

“That manifests itself, as has happened this week, in people turning to extremist parties such as the British National party, which are happy to exploit such situations.

“There is a political advantage in addressing this issue and demonstrating to the workers that we are on their side and on the side of good employers.”

Mr Sheridan pointed out that independent research by the Universities of Liverpool and Sheffield, commissioned by the GLA, showed licensing had been an appropriate tool to regulate labour providers, which was why gangmaster licensing legislation had to be extended to the construction industry.

Concluding, he told the House that trade unions, as well as the Federation of Small Businesses and the Federation of Master Builders were asking for help to get the industry through the recession, and with a little vision, the Government could bring about a change for the construction industry.

photo: jovike@flickr.com

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Jerry Camp  |  June 12, 2009 at 6:30 am

    The Association of Labour Providers (ALP) represents law-abiding GLA Licence Holders in the food and drink industry.
    The GLA has had a significant effect in this sector.
    There has been a major reduction in the exploitation of workers and tax evasion.
    The supply of temporary labour to the food industry has become the most regulated and legally compliant in the UK.
    The ALP strongly supports the need for the Gangmasters Licensing Act to be extended to other sectors, including construction.

    Reply
  • 2. shock absorbing lanyards  |  August 14, 2009 at 9:46 am

    Safety should be the number one concern at work ! An unsafe work environment results in more accidents, which increases workers compensation costs.

    Reply

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