Labour Research February 2016


Union attacks ‘flexible licensing’

Construction union UCATT has reacted angrily to government proposals to relax the licensing of gangmasters. The announcement came as part of the government’s response to its consultation on tackling labour market exploitation in which it plans to give new powers to authorities to enforce basic work rights.

While the government said it received broad support for its proposals, the TUC has reported that just 19% of respondents to the consultation were in favour of a flexible approach to gangmaster licensing.

UCATT has warned that under a proposed more flexible licence system, which will see the Gangmasters Licensing Authority becoming the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority, there is unlikely to be a crackdown on the unfair treatment of workers by employment agencies.

Brian Rye, acting general secretary of UCATT, said: “This proposal is a craven attempt to release employment agencies from the obligation of treating workers fairly. For ‘flexible licensing’ read ‘look the other way’.”

The reforms will also create the role of a director of labour market enforcement who will bring together the work of existing enforcement agencies (the Employment Agencies Standard Inspectorate, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs’ National Minimum Wage team and the Gangmasters Licensing Authority).