Northern Ireland

Three men fined after admitting gangmaster offences

Cockle picker Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Three men have been convicted of gangmaster offences after employing workers to pick shellfish

Three men have been convicted of gangmaster offences in Northern Ireland.

It followed investigations by the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA).

Rolandas Linkevicius, Aurimas Andrijauskas and Airidas Grabausks, all with addresses in Newry, were fined a total of more than £2,000.

District Judge Eamonn King said that there was a degree of enterprise to make money but nothing more sinister.

Lithuanian nationals Linkevicius (39), of Mountain View Drive, and Andrijauskas (37), of Maple Grove, were each fined £765, after pleading guilty to acting as unlicensed gangmasters.

Their company Coastal Seafoods Ltd was found to have been operating a business with eight workers out picking shellfish across Northern Ireland without a GLAA licence between October 2016 and May 2017.

Defendants 'took a risk'

Also prosecuted was Lithuanian national Airidas Grabausks (34), from Clonmore in Newry.

Grabausks, a director of A&A Seafood Ltd in the city, admitted acting as an unlicensed gangmaster between November 2016 and May 2017 by similarly employing workers to pick shellfish across Northern Ireland.

He was fined £515.

The GLAA regulates businesses which provide workers to the fresh produce supply chain and horticulture industry, to make sure they meet the employment standards required by law.

GLAA's Ian Waterfield said: "These successful prosecutions demonstrate our continued commitment to ensure that those people who break the law in our regulated sectors are brought to justice.

"In both cases, the defendants took a risk that they would not be caught without a licence.

"However, their attempts to flout the law have backfired and these cases should act as a lesson to all gangmasters in the shellfish industry. We will find out and we will prosecute."

It is a criminal offence to provide labour in the shellfish sector without a GLAA licence and to use labour from unlicensed providers.