A Kent-based gangmaster couple have agreed to a landmark settlement worth more than £1m in compensation and legal costs for a group of migrants who were trafficked to work on farms producing eggs for high street brands.
The couple agreed to the compensation deal after a high court ruling found that they had failed to pay the national minimum wage, had made unlawful deductions from wages and had failed to provide adequate facilities to wash, rest, eat and drink.
The employees alleged that they had been threatened and assaulted by Lithuanian supervisors who intimidated them with fighting dogs, and that they were housed in appalling conditions.
They said they were forced to work back-to-back eight-hour 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 minibuses as they travelled between jobs on poultry farms around the UK.
The Lithuanians were sent to work in supply chains producing premium free range eggs for McDonald’s, Tesco, Asda, M&S and the Sainsbury’s Woodland brand.
The supermarket companies said at the time that they were shocked by the allegations and would take action to ensure their ethical standards were met fully.