One of the UK’s biggest chicken catching businesses will have to close down within weeks after having its Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) licence revoked.
Victor Foster Poultry Services Ltd (VFPS) was granted a GLAA licence back in 2006 to supply farm workers to catch chickens which were then sent for processing and vaccination.
The company, which is based in Northern Ireland but also operates throughout the UK, was found to have breached the GLAA’s licensing standards in three critical areas as well as not being fit and proper.
The GLAA found that VFPS was unwilling to comply with the standards and had shown a wholesale disregard for the licensing scheme.
VFPS failed to show the GLAA that its workers were being paid accurately and taking adequate rests during their shifts. Workers also told inspectors that they did not receive copies of their contracts.
Concerns were raised that the drivers transporting workers were working incredibly long shifts with insufficient rest periods. On one occasion, GLAA inspectors found that a worker completed an 18-hour shift, had under six hours as a break before he was back out for a 19-hour shift.
Despite this damning evidence, VFPS appealed the GLAA’s decision to revoke its licence, claiming that it was disproportionate as they had rectified all the issues highlighted during the inspection.
However, a hearing held in Nottingham from 8 to 10 October dismissed the appeal.
Judge Peter Britton supported the GLAA’s position that compliance with the licensing standards must be demonstrated at the time of inspection, not at a later date.
GLAA Head of Licensing Charlotte Woodliffe said: “This is a tremendous result for our hard-working licensing and compliance teams. We are pleased that the judge upheld our original decision and agreed with our assessment that there were several key breaches of our licensing standards.
“We hope this result sends a strong message to businesses who are acting unlawfully within the sectors regulated by the GLAA. We will find out if you are breaching the standards and we will not hesitate to put you out of business when you are caught.”
VFPS has 28 days from the decision to wind up the business before the licence is revoked. Any trading after this date would be considered a criminal offence.