ELS Recruitment closed down by Gangmasters Licensing Authority

A gangmaster accused of “shocking abuse” against migrant farm workers has lost his licence, according to media reports.

ELS Recruitment in Peterborough was shut down by the Gangmasters Licensing Authority, after being found guilty of exploiting 50 Polish and Slovakian workers by deducting pay without any explanation and forcing them to pay to use company transport.

According to the Guardian, the licensing authority said some staff were verbally abused and one worker had allegedly been assaulted by ELS company director Shamus Paul. One worker complained that the only training they had received was “don’t lose your knife”.

Paul Whitehouse, chairman of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority, told the Guardian that ELS controlled where some of the workers lived, if they worked, how they got to work and even if they got paid.

“Anybody who abuses this amount of control over the lives of others deserves to face the consequences,” he said.

The licensing authority was set up to prevent the exploitation of migrant workers following the death of 23 Chinese cockle pickers in Morecambe Bay in 2004. It has now revoked 53 licences since its inception.

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