Food manufacturers should welcome the crackdown launched by the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) to stamp out exploitation of foreign workers, which will involve up to 30 raids across the UK, inter- national law firm Eversheds said last week.

Eversheds partner Owen Warnock said the GLA’s Operation Ajax was probably the only realistic way of enforcing the law. "Most businesses in the food industry will welcome Operation Ajax, despite the disruption it may cause," he said. "Food manufacturers, growers and gangmasters who obey the rules will welcome the removal of unfair competition from those who illegally undercut the minimum conditions."

He added that scandals about exploitation of workers can be very damaging to retailers and brand names "even though quite often the fault does not lie with them but with a dishonest or careless gangmaster company".

The GLA’s campaign is supported by the TUC. Deputy general secretary Frances O’Grady said at its launch last week that the TUC’s Commission on Vulnerable Employment had found two million workers in the UK faced "extreme exploitation".