The Gangmasters Licensing Act should not relate to forestry. It was written to protect migrant workers of which forestry has very few if any. The Gangmaster Licensing Authority has been set up as sole arbiter of the Act, yet there appears to be a clear conflict of interest, since they seem to be solely intent on raising funds for their organisation, rather than interpreting the legislation in a reasonable and
balanced way which is within the spirit of the Act. Nobody in the industry wants to see
workers exploited but as we all know this is not a problem in forestry which is desperately
short of good contractors.
Many of our members are consultants who do not employ workers directly yet we have reports of the GLA using bullying tactics to persuade these consultants that they are in fact gangmasters and breaking the law if they do not pay the £2,250 required for a gangmaster license.
Anyone looking through the GLA website would be hard pushed to find any reference to the
important exemptions, yet they are crucial to forestry contractors, as all machine work is
exempt. Despite this their booklet “Do You Need a Licence” clearly states that you will need a licence if you are involved in “felling” or “harvesting” which is patently untrue.
Why is this idea important?
We are constantly told that that government wants to help small business during the economic recession yet here we have the ridiculous situation where taxpayer’s money is being spent harassing contractors for essentially using the wrong type of spade.
The GLA are adamant that forestry consultants are breaking the law under section 4(6) of the Act but this is a matter of interpretation. This is clearly a case of unnecessary regulation preventing small businesses from functioning. Forestry is an important UK industry producing timber, providing recreation, helping conservation and most crucially to current governement targets, helping mitigate climate change.