26 November 1998
Tighten up on gangmasters, urges T&G

By FWi staff

GOVERNMENT efforts to reduce the exploitation of farm workers by gangmasters should be made more stringent, Ministry of Agriculture officials were told today (Thursday).

Representatives of the Transport and General Workers Union told MAFF that the Governments voluntary register of gangmasters was not working and should be made compulsory.

The voluntary register was launched earlier this year as part of a Government initiative to crack down on the number of illegal immigrants working on farms.

But the union claims that few gangmasters have signed up to the register.

It says that unscrupulous gangmasters, who employ teams of seasonal workers for harvesting and processing farm produce, are still flouting the law.

The union believes that a national register could lead to better conditions for farm workers, many of whom work long hours for low pay.

It also estimates that 10-15% of the 40,000 gang workers in this country are illegal workers from abroad.