Calls for ‘gangmasters’ to be licenced

Trade unions are calling for the mandatory licencing of ‘gangmasters’
following the death of 20 Chinese cockle pickers at Morecambe Bay in February.

The TUC is backing a private members Bill that would introduce a licencing
scheme designed to better regulate the condition of workers like those involved
in the tragedy.

However, the Bill, proposed by MP Jim Sheridan, has not yet received
government endorsement, and TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said the
Government must now give it a higher priority. "It is deeply disappointing
that the Government still does not accept that gangmasters should be registered
as a matter of urgency.

"This now has cross-party support and is clearly justified in the wake
of this tragedy," he said.

Justin McCracken, head of operations at the Health & Safety Executive,
said the agency was working with the police investigation team and that the
incident highlighted the need to ensure sensible safety policies were in place
for all workers in the UK.

The Institute of Occupational Health and Safety Professionals urged the
Government to introduce a specific corporate killing offence that would punish
organisations that caused the death of employees.

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