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Two convictions after waiters and waitresses shoved into cabbage fields to work.

Two convictions after waiters and waitresses shoved into cabbage fields to work.
Two men, who mistreated their workers, have been convicted of breaching gangmaster laws. An investigation commenced in January 2008 after 8 Polish workers, wearing only sports clothing and trainers, were found drenched in a cabbage field.
The young men and women had arrived in the UK via an unlicensed agency in Poland and were given contracts specifying they would be working in the catering industry as waiters and waitresses.
As the workers believed that they would be working in restaurants they were not prepared for the Cornish fields in Winter where they were expected to cut weigh and pack 1200 cabbages per hour each in order to be paid the agricultural minimum wage.
The GLA found the workers in near freezing conditions in a muddy and wet field dressed in lightweight sports clothing that was not waterproof.
Paul Whitehouse, Chairman on the GLA said:
Both convicted individuals tried to delay the court process as much as possible, but we managed to get a good result for the workers almost immediately. They had only been in the country three weeks when we found them and it could have been a lucky escape.
We will not allow workers to be treated in this way. Companies who use unlicensed Gangmasters break the law and demonstrate their disregard for workers in doing so. Severe penalties are likely where the offenders behaviour aggravates the treatment of the workers. It may in future also be treated as evidence of the new offence of forced labour.
The farmer whos crop they were picking was so concerned for their welfare that he provided them with free food and clothing as soon as he was aware of their plight.
Both the owner and area manager of Rapier Recruitment Ltd based in Slough, were found guilty of using an unlicensed agency in Poland to provide them with the eight workers that were placed into the Cornish fields.
Abrar ul Haq pleaded guilty to receiving workers from an unlicensed agency as well as supplying the workers through an unlicensed umbrella company and was given 300 hours community service and ordered to pay 5,000 in costs.
Gary Richards pleaded guilty to receiving workers from an unlicensed agency and was given 200 hours community service and ordered to pay 3,000 in costs.
The GLA investigation uncovered a catalogue of failures by Rapier Recruitment Ltd, which included not training or supervising the workers who would receive 60p per crate of 10 cut cabbages and supposed to drive the tractor. An initial denial that accommodation was provided which changed when evidence was produced to prove it was and many questions raised over the pay, lack of records and treatment of the workers.
Four of the workers went on to be treated and paid properly working for other agencies whilst the other four decided to go back to Poland.

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