Calne firm in denial on job laws

First published in News

A Calne company exploited foreign workers it had illegally supplied to about 500 farms across the country, a jury has been told.

Marden Management Ltd and its boss Christopher Blakeney, 50,deny flouting gangmaster laws by providing workers, mainly Filipinos, to the dairy industry.

It is said they breached regulations introduced in the wake of the Morecambe Bay tragedy, when 21 cockle pickers died, by not having a licence: charges they deny.

Brendan Moorhouse, prosecuting, told Swindon Crown Court on Monday the firm, based at Dominion House, Market Hill, Calne, had applied for the permit in 2006 but were refused as they never paid the £2,130 required.

Despite being warned that they were contravening the regulations when they asked if they were exempt, he said they kept on with the illicit trade.

Blakeney, of Conock, near Devizes, and Marden Management Ltd each deny four counts of acting as a gangmaster without the proper licence.

The jury was told workers were brought into the UK, having already provided financial bonds, and were then deducted half their first two months’ wages as a second bond.

Some were then subject to deductions for accommodation, which was supposed to be provided by the farmer, and time sheets were not properly kept meaning they worked extra hours for nothing and many were paid under the Agricultural Minimum Wage.

The case continues.

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