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Company found liable for workers kept in modern slavery

DJ Houghton Chicken Catching Services Ltd, a gangmaster company, was ordered to pay compensation to Lithuanian workers who had been trafficked to the UK and severely exploited by the company.

The police raided houses controlled by the company in 2012 and freed several suspected victims of human trafficking. The Gangmaster Licensing Authority revoked the company’s licence and the trafficked men were taken into the care of the National Referral Mechanism for victims of human trafficking, but no criminal charges have been brought.

The court ruled that the workers were owed compensation for:

  • Failure to pay the agricultural minimum wage.

  • Charging of prohibited work-finding fees.

  • Unlawfully withholding wages.

  • Depriving the workers of facilities to wash, rest, eat and drink.

The trafficked men were working in supply chains producing premium free range eggs for McDonald’s, Tesco, Asda, M&S and the Sainsbury’s Woodland brand.

This is the first time that a UK company has been found civilly liable for victims of trafficking and should make businesses more cognisant of the need to ensure that modern slavery is eradicated form their supply chains.

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