"“We have lent a huge amount of money to the U.S. Of course we are concerned about the safety of our assets. To be honest, I am definitely a little worried.” "

Chinese premier Wen Jiabao 12th March 2009

""We have a financial system that is run by private shareholders, managed by private institutions, and we'd like to do our best to preserve that system."

Timothy Geithner US Secretary of the Treasury, previously President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.1/3/2009

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

GLA crackdown on supermarket suppliers of daffodils

Gangmaster Mr Jonathan Beckson, Director of Timberland Homes Ltd, trading as Timberland Homes Recruitment had their licence revoked with immediate effect by the Gangmaster Licensing Authority yesterday. Timberland is based in Brandon in Suffolk and had supplied workers to Winchester Growers in Cornwall and a flower picking consortium, Grampian Growers near Montrose in Scotland.

The GLA is passing the information on this case to the UK Human Trafficking Centre (UKHTC).

GLA inspectors uncovered a lengthy series of offences ;
• A threatening letter to workers stating that they were not free to leave before the end of the contract without paying £700, and if they did not have the money this would be recovered from the workers or their families in their home country.

• Timberland were subcontracting workers from an unlicensed Polish gangmaster

• Some workers stated that they received £24 for a nine hour day

• Workers received 4p per bunch of flowers picked

• No timesheets were used, so pay could not be accurately recorded

• Scottish Agricultural Minimum Wage was not being paid

• VOSA had issued prohibition notices on six Timberland minibuses in Cornwall and Timberland flouted the law by transporting the workers to Scotland in these vehicles and continued to use these minibuses for transportation of workers there on a daily basis

• Grampian and Tayside Police Forces took combined action regarding the use of the minibuses, forcing the operator to reduce seating capacity due to their ‘unlicensed’ status. Reports regarding the vehicles’ use have been submitted to Scottish Procurators’ Fiscal regarding consideration of prosecution of the firm

• Workers did not give their consent for transport and accommodation deductions

• Workers were charged for the protective clothing needed to carry out the job

• Six to eight workers shared rooms in converted farm buildings that were not licensed as houses of multiple occupation

• There were not enough beds for the 43 workers and only 4 toilets between them.

• The Kitchen facilities were poor and used bedding and laundry was kept in the cooking area thus creating a serious hygiene and fire hazard

• Tayside Fire and Rescue inspected the accommodation at the request of the GLA and found the premises to be unsatisfactory and issued a report stating that it should be rectified without delay.

Winchester Growers are part of a Group of Companies known as Bulbs and Flowers International which is itself part of the Belgian based Univeg group (bought out May 1995) . Winchester growers website claims they are the UK’s leading grower/packers of daffodil bulbs, principally bulb based flowers, bouquets and potted products supplying the major UK high street multiples and horticultural wholesalers as well as exporting some of their products to Europe and the USA. Turnpver in 2005 exceeded £35 Mn.

They have a site in Penzance, Cornwall. The principle operations there relate to the growing, packing and distribution of daffodil bulbs and flowers, they also own maintain the National Collection of Dahlias at this site.

This is the company website Jobs page captured today. Grampian Growers is a hugely successful and profitable Agricultural Cooperative, established in 1968 by six leading farmers based in Logie, Montrose, 35 miles south of Aberdeen. The cooperative was designed to produce and market, quality, unsubsidised produce, which continues today, with the production and marketing of daffodil cut flowers, daffodil bulbs, and seed potatoes.

A current membership of 18 bulb growers and a further 13 potato growers produce annually -

5-7 million bunches of daffodil flowers
4 – 5,000 tonnes of daffodil bulbs
17- 18,000 tonnes of seed potatoes.

The company website says ..."The production year commences in early March, with the cropping of daffodil flowers by the grower members, for around 6 weeks. The flowers are centrally packed at Logie, to customer specifications and transported in refrigerated trailers to both supermarket outlets in Europe, by air to the USA / Canada, and to wholesale outlets within the UK, " 5-7 million bunches of flowers cropped, packed and marketed primarily to mainland Europe, as well as the USA and Canada.

Tesco Enjoy the Taste of Scotland was Scotland's largest food and drink festival held at George Square, Glasgow in the last weekend of April reported Farming UK last week 1/5//06
The event had a giving side as well with Tesco Charity of the Year Marie Curie, Yorkhill Sick Kids Hospital and St John's Hospice all receiving funds or items from the event.

The fundraising came from Tesco, the generosity of the Scottish public as well as individual suppliers, including Whyte and Mackay and Allied Bakeries.

Thousands of pounds was raised and Yorkhill Hospital received two large fresh-baked cakes from Tunnocks and more than 200 daffodills from Grampian Growers.

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