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Soapbox: Food Manufacturing Cleaning Companies are Gangmasters
By David Camp from the Association of Labour Providers
The Association of Labour Providers is the specialist trade association offering support and expert advice to organisations that provide and use workers within the food, agricultural and other GLA regulated sectors. Its members also include industrial labour providers. Established in 2004, the ALP's goal is to improve the standard of labour provision across industries, whilst supporting the need for an ethically managed, cost effective and flexible labour force.
"Companies that supply food processing equipment cleaning services require a Gangmaster's licence and are currently facing enforcement action by the Gangmasters Licensing Authority.
This is the position taken by the Gangmasters Licensing Authority which has recently served criminal enforcement notices on a number of such cleaning companies for illegally operating as gangmasters. What's more the GLA has also served enforcement notices on the food manufacturing companies for using unlicensed gangmasters.
The GLA considers that food factory cleaning falls within the scope of work to which the Gangmasters Licensing Act applies, being 'processing or packaging any produce derived from agricultural work, or shellfish, fish or products derived from shellfish or fish'.
Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs lawyers consider that cleaning of production equipment counts as 'processing' and have specifically stated: "Factory Cleaners (including from a Facilities Management Company) - Those engaged in cleaning the production area would be covered by the scheme whether or not it was operating. However, those undertaking cleaning activities away from the immediate production line are unlikely to be covered. A Facilities Management company which employed workers to clean the production area of a food processing plant would be covered by the licensing scheme as they would, in effect, be using a worker to provide a service. If they only clean floor/walls then the work would not be covered."
The legal argument will be around whether food processing equipment cleaning is actually 'processing' or not, and that will be a matter of legal decision based on an interpretation of the Gangmasters Licensing Act and the facts around the nature of work undertaken. It is not necessarily clear cut.
Any cleaning company or food manufacturing company that is unsure about whether a licence is required should contact the GLA or may contact the Association of Labour Providers to discuss the matter.
13th October 2011