Olympics con fires Ucatt resolve to get gangmaster laws in construction

Construction union Ucatt has repeated its call for the Gangmasters Licensing Act to be extended to the building community after it emerged that hundreds of eastern European workers who had been promised jobs at the London 2012 Olympic site had been duped.

An investigation by BBC London revealed that 550 Slovakians handed over cash deposits of £600 after being promised accommodation on a cruise ship in Docklands along with jobs on the site of the Olympic Village.

Unions have been pushing the government to extend the legislation to cover other sectors to protect so-called vulnerable workers. The Act currently covers agriculture, food processing, forestry, horticulture and shellfish gathering.

So far the government and business groups have resisted pressure to extend the legislation, claiming better enforcement of existing laws would be a better solution.

But Ucatt general secretary Alan Ritchie said migrant workers seeking construction work in the UK were highly vulnerable to exploitation. He feared other scams could target migrants on the Olympic site.

“This case once again underlines the chronic need to extend the legislation to the construction industry,” he said. “In the sectors it covers, the Gangmasters Licensing Authority has excelled at cracking down on exploitation. It defies belief that the government is unwilling to extend this protection to construction workers.”

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