Union warns of ‘slave labour’ on UK fruit farm

Workers at a Herefordshire strawberry farm are being treated like “modern day slaves”, a union has warned.

The Transport and General Workers’ (T&G) Union is urging two of the UK’s biggest supermarkets to intervene to stop the alleged abuse of workers at S&A Produce, in Marden, near Hereford.

The union said it had gathered evidence from strawberry pickers at the site of alleged employment abuses, reports The Press Association.

The T&G claims pickers are working 14 hours a day with less than 30 minutes break; being denied urgent medical care or being told they will be charged a fee for it and frequent breaches of contracts.

The union said it had approached the company, which it believes employs up to 5,000 workers, most of whom are migrants from Eastern Europe, with “the evidence” but had been refused access to workers.

Jack Dromey, deputy general secretary of the T&G, said: “Workers have told us of their appalling abuse at the hands of S&A Produce. They are being treated like modern day slaves, exploited for profit at the very bottom of the food supply chain.”

There was no one available at S&A Produce to comment on the allegations.

The government recently outlined plans to protect vulnerable workers.

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