26 May 2004
Methodist Church and TUC lobby for licensed Gangmasters
The TUC and the Methodist Church yesterday welcomed the support of the government for legislation to license Gangmasters, in order to stop the exploitative supply of migrant labour to British agriculture.
In their annual roundtable meeting, the leaders of the TUC and The Methodist Church recognised the essential need for extra labour to be available at certain times of year, while strongly condemning the unjust practices of some Gangmasters.
Frances O'Grady, TUC Deputy General Secretary, said: "The Gangmasters Bill deserves support, and Jim Sheridan MP and the Transport and General Workers' Union have done tremendous work to win government support for this vital measure. Workers coming to the UK from abroad deserve fair treatment and it is important that unions form partnerships to protect the exploited and low paid."
President of the Methodist Conference, the Revd Dr Neil Richardson, said: "It was a friendly and productive meeting where both parties yet again discovered how many common values are shared, especially that of seeking justice for the lowest paid. The Methodist Church has been concerned for some time over the injustices meted out to migrant workers, and we champion their cause for fair rights and pay. We hope to see licensed Gangmasters in the future, and we urge that any legislation is backed up by well resourced and effective enforcement"
John Ellis, Secretary for Business & Economic Affairs at The Methodist Church, said: "The TUC recognise a particular challenge to achieve better levels of trade union membership amongst the more mobile parts of the agricultural workforce. By working with the TUC and its member unions at a local level the Methodist Church, which has half of its chapels in rural settings and a network of rural chaplains, can help to raise awareness of the plight of migrant workers."
He cautioned: "To achieve this, however, the Church must be a welcoming organisation to transient workers of many different ethnic backgrounds."
There was more common ground found in the challenge against far-right political parties. The Methodist Church and the TUC agreed to support and co-operate with each other in countering political extremism.