Lancashire

Lancashire gangmaster firm's licence revoked

A Lancashire gangmasters firm has had its licence revoked after it was found to have paid workers less than the minimum wage.

Plus Staff 24 Ltd, based in Skelmersdale, was found to have breached 11 regulations.

The Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) also discovered substandard accommodation for its workers with mould-infested toilets.

No-one from the firm could be reached for comment.

The owner of the company, Jose Rosa, employed more than 20 workers who had come to the UK from Latvia, Paul Whitehouse, chair of the GLA said.

Many were working for as little as £3 an hour as fruit and vegetable pickers on farms and in factories.

The GLA said its inspectors found that staff were not given holiday pay and had to live in squalid conditions.

"The worst thing about it was that he was trapping these workers," Mr Whitehouse said.

"He would not pay them enough to live on so they would loan money from him - then he would make them pay it back with interest from their already meagre wages.

"They could not leave, they were trapped."

The GLA was first set up after the tragedy in Morecambe Bay in which 23 Chinese cockle pickers lost their lives.

Mr Whitehouse said he believed Plus Staff 24 Ltd was set up as a front after Maria Baptista, who ran Maria Recruitment Solutions Limited, failed to get her licence renewed.

Mr Rosa can appeal the decision, Mr Whitehouse said. If he carries on trading then he will be working illegally and criminal action could be taken against him.

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