10 June 1998
Clampdown on farmworker exploitation

A CLAMPDOWN on the illegal exploitation of farm workers by unscrupulous “gangmasters” was announced by the Government yesterday.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) unveiled measures which could save taxpayers millions of pounds by curbing the unlawful employment of immigrants and benefits claimants.

The Government believes its new guidelines for gangmasters, farmers and workers, produced by the National Farmers Union and Fresh Produce Consortium, will reduce the scale of the problem by informing them of their rights and obligations.

The Transport and General Workers Union believes that between 10-15% of the estimated 40,000 gang workers in this country are illegal workers from abroad. It welcomed the Governments initiative.

The first raid in the Governments operation last April led to 180 workers being interviewed on spring onion farms in Lincolnshire. Fifty of the workers were found to be benefit claimants and 37 were arrested for possible immigration offences.