Methodist Church and TUC lobby for licensed Gangmasters

The TUC and the Methodist Church yesterday welcomed the supportof the government for legislation to license Gangmasters, in orderto stop the exploitative supply of migrant labour to Britishagriculture.


In their annual roundtable meeting, the leaders of the TUC andThe Methodist Church recognised the essential need for extra labourto be available at certain times of year, while strongly condemningthe unjust practices of some Gangmasters.


Frances O'Grady, TUC Deputy General Secretary, said: "TheGangmasters Bill deserves support, and Jim Sheridan MP and theTransport and General Workers' Union have done tremendous work towin government support for this vital measure. Workers coming tothe UK from abroad deserve fair treatment and it is important thatunions form partnerships to protect the exploited and lowpaid."


President of the Methodist Conference, the Revd Dr NeilRichardson, said: "It was a friendly and productive meeting whereboth parties yet again discovered how many common values areshared, especially that of seeking justice for the lowest paid. TheMethodist Church has been concerned for some time over theinjustices meted out to migrant workers, and we champion theircause for fair rights and pay. We hope to see licensed Gangmastersin the future, and we urge that any legislation is backed up bywell resourced and effective enforcement"


John Ellis, Secretary for Business & Economic Affairs at TheMethodist Church, said: "The TUC recognise a particular challengeto achieve better levels of trade union membership amongst the moremobile parts of the agricultural workforce. By working with the TUCand its member unions at a local level the Methodist Church, whichhas half of its chapels in rural settings and a network of ruralchaplains, can help to raise awareness of the plight of migrantworkers."


He cautioned: "To achieve this, however, the Church must be awelcoming organisation to transient workers of many differentethnic backgrounds."


There was more common ground found in the challenge againstfar-right political parties. The Methodist Church and the TUCagreed to support and co-operate with each other in counteringpolitical extremism.