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June 10, 2009

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Architect of Gangmasters Bill wants construction extension

The MP whose Private Members’ Bill eventually led to the Gangmasters

Licensing Act 2004 has introduced a new Bill that would see the Act

extended to cover the construction industry.

Introducing the Bill in the Commons on 10 June, Labour MP Jim Sheridan told MPs that while campaigning for his original Bill, he had argued that, should it prove effective, unscrupulous gangmasters would move into other industries. He explained: “The construction trade was the industry that we used as an example then, because of its diverse and mobile nature, and it is where we find illegal gangmasters working now.”

He pointed out that, since 2007, there have been 120 fatal accidents in the construction sector, adding: “Again, there is evidence that illegal gangmasters supply unskilled labour to major construction companies and their sub-contractors to carry out skilled and dangerous work, without taking into consideration the safety consequences for the general public, others on the site, and themselves.

“These gangmasters also undermine the legitimate employers who invest in training, and pay their taxes and national insurance contributions.”

Construction union UCATT has been campaigning for the Act to cover the building industry. General secretary Alan Ritchie said last month: “The biggest challenges in construction concern the casualised nature of the industry. This leads to exploitation of workers but also increases injuries and deaths.

“By reducing casualisation through regulating gangmasters and employment agencies, conditions on sites would improve dramatically almost overnight.”

The Bill will be read a second time on 16 October.

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