Cumbria

Romanian workers 'exploited' at Carlisle car wash

Left to right: Jetmir Paci, Defram Paci and Sitar Ali
Image caption (L-R) Jetmir Paci, Defrim Paci and Sitar Ali deny the charges

A Romanian man has told a court how he was brought to Carlisle to work in a car wash for 11 hours a day, seven days a week for £30-£45 a day.

Through an interpreter, the man told Carlisle Crown Court he also had to buy his own protective clothing.

The worker said he was told if he tried to find other work he would be evicted from the flat he shared with 11 others.

Three men - brothers Defrim Paci and Jetmir Paci, along with Sitar Ali - have denied modern slavery charges.

They are accused of the exploitation of Romanian nationals employed at the Shiny site, Warwick Road, during 2016 and 2017.

The worker told a jury he paid 150 euro for transportation from Romania to Carlisle, arriving on a Sunday before starting work the next day.

'Dirty' house

He said he was initially paid £30 a day, which eventually rose to £45, but that car wash manager Sitar Ali levied a £150 job "guarantee".

No pay slips were issued until after a visit by police and immigration officials in November, 2016.

The prosecution alleges they understated working hours and overstated pay rates.

The worker said "acid" was used to clean some car wheels, but that staff were issued only with "a cap and a T-shirt", and had to wear their own clothes.

He said the only protective gear they had were gloves they bought from Tesco.

Compulsory labour

At that time, the worker paid Mr Ali weekly rent of £40 to live in a "dirty" house at Compton Street, Carlisle, with up to 11 fellow car wash workers, the court heard.

Mr Ali, 31, of Adelaide Street, Carlisle, admits managing the car wash.

Defrim Paci, 40, of Windmill Close, Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, and his brother Jefrim, 35, of Minimum Terrace, Chesterfield, both deny they had managerial responsibilities.

All three deny two charges of conspiracy to require persons to perform forced and compulsory labour, and conspiracy to arrange or facilitate the travel of Romanian nationals to the UK with a view to exploitation.

Mr Ali denies a further charge alleging the possession of criminal property - namely cash.

The trial continues.

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