ConFor has been pursuing a two-pronged approach to the contentious issue of gangmaster licensing in forestry. Now, it is confirmed that ConFor’s chief executive, Stuart Goodall, will participate in the steering group for the forthcoming Gangmasters Licensing Authority pilot on forestry.
Following several industry meetings with the GLA and Defra, where the case for forestry to be exempt or costs significantly reduced were made, the GLA offered to run a pilot ‘lighter touch’ inspection process for forestry.
Darryl Dixon, GLA director of strategy, said, “We are working up how ‘lighter touch’ inspection processes might operate. This includes the need to consider what other information we might ask for, which the industry would not see as burdensome, and which would also assist the GLA in making risk decisions when considering whether to issue licences, and to what extent and in what circumstances inspections are required or can be adapted.
“The pilot will run from 06 April 2011 to 05 April 2012. At the conclusion of the pilot, decisions will be made, based on the operation of a lighter touch, whether the approach continues, is expanded, and whether it impacts future fee levels.”
Stuart Goodall cautiously welcomed the initiative, saying, “The GLA is responding to the concerns we have expressed about what we see as the unnecessary inclusion of forestry in gangmaster licensing given the limited evidence of inappropriate gangmaster activity in the sector. While this move is welcomed, ConFor will continue to press for effective exclusion, including through the forestry regulation task force, recently announced by the minister, Jim Paice, in response to a request from ConFor. So far, I have not seen any need for forestry to be included in the GLA’s remit. I believe it is disproportionate regulation, which this government has stated it wishes to address.”