The findings of a new report which identifies that false self-employment is used to exploit migrant workers and calls for the Gangmasters legislation to be extended into the construction industry, has been welcomed by construction union UCATT.
The recommendations form part of the recently published Inquiry into Human Trafficking in Scotland written by Baroness Helena Kennedy QC for the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
While the report primarily focuses on issues of human trafficking and the sex trade it also states on the issue of false self-employment: “gangmasters can induce workers to claim self-employed status so that British landowners, farmers, factory and restaurant owners may, if they so wish, have no risk of legal consequences when they use such cheap labour.”
The report also recommends that the Gangmasters Licensing Authority be extended it says: “Another problem is that the remit of the GLA is currently confined to the oversight of labour in the food and agricultural sectors, while exploited foreign labour may now be found in the service and construction industries as well as in care homes.
“In our evidence-gathering it became clear to us that there seemed to be no good reason for the vital work of the GLA not being expanded to include these other sectors and to cover other forms of contract employment and outsourced work, and that employers who used such labour should hold some responsibility for wages and conditions.”
Harry Frew, Regional Secretary of UCATT Scotland, said: “The highly influential report is significant, as it makes the link between false self-employment and the exploitation of workers. The report clearly identifies that the GLA’s strict licensing regime is the most effective way in cutting down on these abuses and the vital need to extend its powers to construction and other industries.”