Don Pollard, a driving force behind the Gangmasters Licensing Act and a passionate advocate for the rights of agricultural workers, has passed away aged 80.
As a union activist, Pollard gathered evidence for a number of influential reports on exploitation of workers in food production and agriculture in East Anglia, Sussex and the Vale of Evesham.
He was also among the first to record worker exploitation by subcontracted gangmasters in supply chains to the major supermarkets from the 80s onwards, according to an obituary in the Guardian newspaper.
Following the tragic drowning of 23 Chinese cockle pickers in Morecambe Bay, Pollard’s work eventually contributed to a bill introducing licensing to the gangmaster sector.
Pollard’s activism on labour rights wasn’t restricted to the UK; he was also a trustee of NGO Banana Link as well as a volunteer with Amnesty International.
An active member of the Labour party, Pollard was a member of the National Union of Agricultural and Allied Workers, later part of the Transport and General Workers’ Union and then Unite the Union, where he aimed to recruit impoverished farm workers.
He moved to Ireland with his wife, the gardener Joy Larkcom, to pursue a lifelong hobby of vegetable production and continue his volunteering.
Pollard is survived by Larkcom, his two children, and five grandchildren.