Warning over poor working conditions as flower picking season starts

Agencies that provide flower pickers in Cornwall, together with the growers themselves, are being urged to help stamp out worker exploitation through the coming season.

The Gangmasters Licensing Authority said this week that problems had been experienced over past years, with daffodil picking getting underway in the county in January.

Migrant workers arrive to find their working and living conditions in the UK do not match what was described.

With the county now preparing for scores of workers to arrive over the next few days. ready for the 2014 picking season, GLA chief executive Paul Broadbent said: “With a large influx of migrant workers to any area over a relatively short period of time, opportunities exist to exploit these vulnerable people who have little or no command of English.

“The majority of operators adhere to the necessary regulations in place to protect workers, but there are some unscrupulous businesses who, driven by profit, may underpay or mistreat their workers - cutting corners to make money.

“From our perspective, the messages are simple - labour agencies supplying workers for flower picking need to have a current GLA licence and must comply with our licensing standards.

“Flower growers using labour provided by a gangmaster should only employ pickers from licensed operators and should treat those workers fairly and with respect at all times. If in doubt, call the GLA and we will help you.

“And to everyone else in Cornwall, if you suspect unlicensed activity is taking place or workers are being exploited in any way, contact us free and in confidence on 0800 432 0804.”

It takes only minutes to check if a labour provider holds a current licence. Anyone can check online by searching the GLA's public register at www.gla.defra.gov.uk.

It is also possible to check who holds a licence with a quick call to the GLA's licensing team on 0845 602 5020.

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