Gangmaster law fears

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CHANGES to an authority set up after the Morecambe Bay cockling tragedy to regulate illegal gangmasters would be “a big mistake”, says a leading city councillor.

Councillor Keith Budden, from Bolton-le-Sands, saw first-hand the aftermath of the disaster on February 5 2004 when 23 Chinese cockle pickers died in rising tides after being sent out into the dangerous Bay by an unlicensed gangmaster.

But the Government has been asked to now ease regulation of gangmasters after complaints by law-abiding farmers.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) will look to reduce the Gangmasters Licensing Authority’s impact on legitimate employers, who have claimed spot checks and planned visits cause them disruption.

But Councillor Budden, who was on the sands that night aiding the rescue mission, said: “Any legislation which safeguards the health, safety and well-being of vulnerable workers is to be applauded.”

See The Visitor (06-03-12) for full story.