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A Preston-based labour provider has been fined £3,500 after ignoring repeated warnings from the Gangmasters Licensing Authority that the company was trading illegally.
The court heard that Tina Walker’s unlicensed business, UR Workforce Solutions, of East Cliff, Preston, continued to provide three workers to Preston Meats in spite of receiving five separate written warnings in May and June 2012.
It was also heard that the company was clearly aware of the requirement for a GLA licence to supply labour for meat processing. Walker’s previous company, Uplands Recruitment Agency Ltd, had lawfully provided the same service with a licence since June 2007.
UR Workforce Solutions was formed after the licensed agency went into administration with sizeable tax debts. The unlicensed replacement business was run from Walker’s home and began trading in January 2012.
When the business finally responded to the GLA on 25 July, Walker admitted her business had been trading unlawfully and was advised to apply for a licence immediately.
No application was ever received. The company continued to supply Preston Meats, in Knoll Lane, Little Hoole, which is run by Walker’s husband, David Walker. Both Walker and her company answered charges of acting as a gangmaster without a licence at Preston Magistrates’ Court last week.
Steph Varle, prosecuting, told the court that while there had been no exploitation of workers in the case, the company had knowingly chosen not to apply for a licence and profited significantly from unlawful trading over a period of several months.
Walker entered a guilty plea on behalf of her company, UR Workforce Solutions, which was fined £3,500 to be paid at £500 per month.
The court also ordered £175 to be paid towards prosecution costs. No evidence was offered for the similar charge against Walker.