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10 Jun 2016

Felicity Lawrence, Guardian (UK)

Court finds UK gangmaster liable for modern slavery victims

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A British company has been found liable for the first time for victims of modern slavery in a landmark high court judgment. The judge...found in favour of six Lithuanian men who were trafficked to the UK and brought a civil case claiming compensation for being severely exploited by the Kent-based gangmaster firm that employed them, DJ Houghton Chicken Catching Services Ltd...The judge ruled that the men were owed compensation for the firm’s failure to pay the agricultural minimum wage, for the charging of prohibited work-finding fees, for unlawfully withholding wages, and for depriving the workers of facilities to wash, rest, eat and drink. The workers have described living and working inhuman and degrading conditions. They say they were forced to work back-to-back eight hours shifts for days at a time, and were denied sleep and toilet breaks, forcing them to urinate in bottles and defecate in carrier bags in their minibuses as they travelled between jobs...The Lithuanians’ claims were brought in a civil case by solicitors Leigh Day and mark a significant breakthrough in attempts for victims of modern slavery to get justice.  Their lawyer at the firm, Shanta Martin, said: “This is the first time a British company has been found liable for victims of trafficking and it is going to make a world of difference to our clients. It should be seen as a warning shot to businesses that they need to make sure modern slavery is eradicated form their supply chains.”

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UK: Gangmaster found liable for first time for victims of modern slavery in landmark high court judgment

DJ Houghton lawsuit (re trafficked Lithuanian migrants)