Investigators from the GLAA employed their new powers during a week of action looking into reports of possible labour exploitation in London.
The UK’s foremost labour abuse investigation and prevention agency teamed up with the London Fire Brigade, the Metropolitan Police, the Health and Safety Executive and the Government’s National Minimum Wage Unit on three separate operations in the past week.
Operations began when the GLAA was accompanied by the police and HSE to check on a group of Romanian construction workers.
These were living on-site while carrying out a housing development project in Tottenham. While the workers’ appeared to be safe and well issues were uncovered concerning payments below the National Minimum Wage and these are now being worked through.
The GLAA was accompanied by fire and police officers in the capital to a recycling plant in Barking, Essex. Two Indian nationals were arrested from the site in suspicion of immigration offences.
The police and NMW officers went with the GLAA to a hotel in central London where they found cleaning staff who appeared to be receiving payments in breach of the National Minimum Wage. More operational activity is planned for the capital in the near future.
Though its remit was previously restricted to the fresh produce sector, since 1 May this year the GLAA has been able to investigate all forms of abuse in the labour market across England and Wales.
GLAA Head of UK Operations Ian Waterfield said: “While we have discovered some serious issues and laid the foundations for some solid working practices with key partner agencies, we know we have barely started to scratch the surface of the exploitation that exists in our capital.
“As an intelligence-led organisation, we need the public to provide us with information about labour abuse, financial and physical exploitation and possible modern slavery offences. We can and we will investigate but we can’t without help from the public.”
He insisted that anyone who suspected labour exploitation was taking place in the UK should call the GLAA in complete confidence on 0800 432 0804.
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