GLA and WRC sign agreement to protect exploited workers in NI and Irish Republic
Exploited workers look set to benefit from additional protection in Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic after the GLA signed a formal agreement with the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).
Chief executive, Paul Broadbent, and WRC chief labour inspector, Padraig Dooley, put pen to paper on a Memorandum of Understanding at the GLA’s National Conference in Derby this week to formalise and facilitate closer working between the two organisations.
The GLA’s remit is to prevent worker exploitation in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, while the WRC performs a similar role in Ireland.
Broadbent said, “In the past we have come across a number of issues involving agencies supplying workers across the border – and so into a jurisdiction where our relevant organisations have no powers to act.
“The document we have signed not only establishes a formal intelligence gateway through which we can share information more readily but also allows officers from both organisations to work together more closely and attend operations together when there are cross border implications.”
The agreement also includes a provision for officers to be seconded to the partner agency so they can become familiar with each other’s powers and working practices.
Dooley added, “This new agreement represents a significant step forward and I’m sure will prove mutually beneficial to both ourselves and the GLA but, more importantly, to the workers we strive to protect.
“We intend to make use of the new arrangements at the earliest available opportunity and look forward to sharing best practice between our two teams.”
The Northern Ireland Minister of Justice, David Ford, welcomed the Memorandum of Understanding. He said, “This agreement is a positive step forward in tackling forced labour on the island of Ireland.
“By working together, and sharing information and expertise, these agencies are better equipped to disrupt criminals who seek to exploit vulnerable workers.”