Chicken-catching firm to close after losing GLAA licence

A UK chicken-catching business will have to close down within weeks after having its Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) licence revoked.

In a statement last week, the GLAA revealed that Victor Foster Poultry Services Ltd (VFPS), based in Markethill, Co Armagh, was found to have breached GLAA’s licensing standards, 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.

The firm was granted a GLAA licence in 2006 to supply farm workers to catch chickens, which were then sent for processing and vaccination.  
 
VFPS was also found to have failed to show the GLAA its workers (none of whom are shown in the picture) 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 also raised that the drivers transporting workers were working “incredibly long” shifts with insufficient rest periods. On one occasion, the GLAA said its inspectors found a worker had completed an 18-hour shift and had less than six hours as a break before heading back out for a 19-hour shift.

VFPS appealed against the GLAA’s decision to revoke its licence, claiming that it was “disproportionate”, as it had rectified all the concerns highlighted during the inspection.
 
However, this appeal was dismissed at a hearing in Nottingham between 8 and 10 October.
 
Judge Peter Britton also supported the GLAA’s position that compliance with the licensing standards must be demonstrated at the time of inspection and not at a later date.
  
When contacted late last week, VFPS owner Victor Foster told Recruiter the company’s breaches of the legislation were down to staff shortages and commercial pressures.

But since the GLAA’s inspection in 2016, the company had shed 50% of its customers to ensure it was compliant with the legislation and was now compliant, he added.

Foster also claimed he had asked the GLAA for assistance at times but that this was not forthcoming, further claiming the GLAA were more “interested in closing the business down”, adversely affecting 140 employees and a family business that he had started.

“I’ve done the job personally,” Foster told Recruiter. “I know what the job entails, so this wasn’t somebody coming in and trying to cream off. I’d done the job for years myself – I knew all about it.”

VFPS has 28 days from the decision to wind up the business before its licence is revoked. Any trading after this date would be considered a criminal offence.

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