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5 Apr 2023

Emiliano Mellino, TBIJ & VICE World News

UK: Nepali workers at EU Plants allege illegal deductions, intimidation & under-payment

"Migrant workers are being ripped off by employers on farms,"

Migrant agricultural workers who travelled thousands of miles to plug labour gaps on UK farms have faced unlawful wage deductions...

... more than 20 people working at nine farms across the UK reported being underpaid – by more than £1,000 in at least two cases.

[One worker] worked at EU Plants Ltd in Berkshire between November 2022 and January 2023, and was paid only two-thirds of what she was owed. Despite working roughly six hours a day for six days a week, she earned just under £2,000 over the two months. Pangeni’s payslips, bank statements and a personal log of the hours she worked show she was underpaid by more than £1,000 while at the farm.

Six other workers at EU Plants, one of the UK’s largest producers of strawberry and raspberry plants, also said they had been underpaid. They said their payslips did not correctly reflect the hours they had worked. When workers tried to check how their hours were being recorded by the field supervisor, they were yelled at..

TBIJ and VICE World News have seen WhatsApp messages from other workers complaining about underpayment to AG Recruitment...

AG Recruitment said that, if necessary, it would report issues to the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA), the government agency responsible for tackling exploitation in the agriculture sector. It would not be drawn on whether a report was made in Pangeni’s case...

EU Plants Ltd did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Part of the following timelines

UK: Migrant farmworkers supplying to major supermarket brands cite forced labour, recruitment debt, poor living conditions & penalties; incl. co comments

UK: EU Plants faces landmark employment claim brought by migrant on seasonal scheme over claims of wage theft, six-day weeks & lack of protective equipment