UK gangmasters exploiting £8-a-week workers

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The Independent Online

Construction workers are being exploited by unscrupulous gangmasters paying them as little as £8.80 a week, Labour's conference was told today.

Alan Ritchie, general secretary of the construction union Ucatt, hit out at "extreme abuses" in the industry.

And he urged ministers to extend the protections given by the gangmasters licensing regulations to the construction industry.

Mr Ritchie told delegates that "exploited" workers were classed as self-employed and denied sick pay, holiday pay or contracts of employment.

Gangmasters then took "unfair deductions" from their pay to cover accommodation and transport, leaving them with little in their pockets.

In one PFI hospital project the union found building workers were being paid just £8.80 a week.

"Criminal gangs are setting up gangmaster operations in the construction industry and then disappear, making off with the tax and national insurance payments. It's a multi million pound fraud," he said.