DJ Houghton Ltd worst UK gangmaster ever
Directors at DJ Houghton Catching Services maintained they were blameless for the poor practice unearthed at their company and appealed against the decision to take away their licence in June last year.
They repeatedly stated in the local press that the company would fight to clear its name in the appeal court, get the company’s licence reinstated and resume trading as soon as possible.
However, the business – based in Wheelers Lane, Linton, Maidstone – has now withdrawn its appeal and accepted the GLA’s revocation decision.
GLA Chief Executive Paul Broadbent said: “The treatment of workers in this case was horrific. It’s a shocking example of an utter disregard for the welfare of workers.
“The exploitation of the workers was prolonged and disgraceful by anyone’s standards. Their working conditions were unsanitary, unreasonable and wholly unacceptable. They were vulnerable people who were severely over-worked and grossly underpaid.”
Employees as young as 17-years-old were forced to work for days at a time in filthy conditions without a bed, a shower or proper food.
They grafted through the nights and were forced to sleep through the days on a minibus as they were driven from the south east to jobs as far away as Penzance, in Cornwall, Cumbria and even into Scotland.
In one instance, a driver was paid for being out for 133 hours in a week, yet the employees stuck on his minibus & lsquo;at work’ for the same period received payment only for the number of chickens they caught.
The company’s GLA licence was revoked on 30 October 2012 following a high- profile operation. They appealed the revocation decision in June last year.
Broadbent added, “The directors of DJ Houghton have been pleading their innocence for months, complaining to the local press and their MP about how the GLA has deprived them from earning an & lsquo;honest living’. The fact is that these workers were treated like slaves.
“Despite their repeated protestations, this company has now made a U-turn and accepted our revocation decision, which is not surprising as our scoring system rated them as the worst UK gangmaster ever.”
The company failed 18 separate licensing standards – enough for its licence to be revoked more than 10 times over.