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Two recruitment companies have been stripped of their Gangmasters Licencing Authority (GLA) licences as a result of a major multi-agency investigation into the exploitation of migrant workers in Cambridgeshire.
Around 300 officers took part in Operation Endeavour in the early hours of 15 October 2013 at a number of addresses around March and Wisbech.
One of the premises visited by officers from Cambridgeshire Police and the GLA was that of Slender Contracting Ltd, in Longhill Road, March, where a number of items were recovered. The company’s licence was immediately suspended to prevent any further suspected exploitation of workers.
Two days later another warrant was executed at the premises of MAS Recruitment, in Steeple View, March, and its licence was also suspended pending further inquiries.
Both businesses have now had their licences revoked with immediate effect, preventing them from operating in the GLA’s regulated sector.
The investigation discovered that Slender Contracting had breached a number of GLA licencing standards by falsifying payslips in order to underpay employees, failing to provide workers with appropriate protective equipment, and failing to agree terms and conditions of work.
In revoking the company’s licence, it was also decided that the person named as being responsible for the day-to-day running of the business, Martyn Slender, had failed a critical ‘fit and proper person’ test.
The licence of MAS Recruitment was suspended and revoked against a breach of the same ‘fit and proper’ standard. The named licence-holder, Mark Slender, brother of Martyn, was also a director of Slender Contracting and involved in its operations.
Slender Contracting has ceased trading since the suspension was imposed.
MAS Recruitment held no contracts in the GLA sector at the time the warrant was executed and is now prevented by law from supplying any labour into agriculture, horticulture, food processing and packaging, or shellfish gathering.
The deadline to challenge both revocation decisions has passed, and neither company has lodged an appeal.
More than 80 workers from Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, and Estonia, who were thought to be subjected to exploitation, were removed from addresses in the area as a result of Operation Endeavour and taken to a reception centre.
Many workers have since found alternative accommodation and alternative employment with licensed operators.