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Bed factory bosses 'used slave labour'.

Byline: Examiner Court Correspondent

A BED firm employed Hungarians as a "slave workforce", a jury heard.

Ravensthorpe-based Kozee Sleep, which supplied national retailers including John Lewis, Next and Dunelm Mill, employed workers from gangmaster Janos Orsos.

A jury at Leeds Crown Court was told that Orsos was paid PS3 an hour for each workers, well below the national minimum wage.

And in turn he paid the workers just PS10 a week with the promise of PS1,000 after six months.

The workers, also given food and tobacco, would be housed in terrible conditions with as many as 40 or 50 others, some sleeping on the floor.

The plight of the workers - also supplied to the firm's sister company Layzee Sleep in Batley - emerged as three men went on trial.

Kozee Sleep boss Mohammed Rafiq, 60, of Thorncliffe Road, Staincliffe, and two of his managers Mohammed Patel, 40, of Carr Side Crescent, Batley, and Mohammed Dadhiwala, 46, of Upper Mount Street, Batley Carr, all deny conspiracy to traffic individuals within the UK. Mr Christopher Tehrani QC, prosecuting, told the court how workers brought to West Yorkshire from Hungary were normally given PS10 a week and told they would get PS1,000 after six months.

The prosecutor said there was evidence Orsos - jailed for five years for people trafficking in 2014 - was paid PS3 a hour for the workers, below minimum wage and normal agency rates for the area.

He said one man, Robert Bodo, came to Batley from Hungary in January 2010 and was taken to live in a property called Gothic House where 40 to 50 people were living and he shared a room with three others.

Mr Tehrani said inspectors found the house was in "a horrendous state."

When the authorities issued a prohibition notice on the house, Mr Bodo was moved, he said.

He told the jury how Mr Bodo was at Kozee Sleep for three-and-a-half years where he worked a minimum of 60 hours a week or he had to do extra work somewhere else.

The prosecutor said he was paid PS10 every Friday by Orsos. When he found out Orsos was being paid PS3 an hour by the firm, Mr Bodo tried to leave but "couldn't as Janos Orsos had his national insurance and bank card.

Mr Tehrani told the jury how Mark Kovacs came to the UK in January 2013 and was put in a two bedroom house in Bradford.

He said: "There were mattresses in every room. During the four months he lived in this property, Mr Kovacs estimates that between 25 and 42 people were living in the premises at any one time."

The prosecutor said he was later moved to a three bedroomed flat in Ravensthorpe where, when he moved in, 30 people were living.

The prosecutor added: "The prosecution submit that the three defendants were involved with Janos Orsos and his human trafficking organisation to source them cheap slave labour to work at Kozee Sleep and Layzee Sleep factories.

"The prosecution case is that the three defendants were aware of the circumstances of the Hungarian nationals who were working at these sites and went along with their exploitation as a slave workforce for their own and others' gain."

The trial, which is expected to last 10 weeks, continues.


Kozee |Sleep, Ravensthorpe. Inset: convicted gangmaster Janos Orsos

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Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Oct 9, 2015
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