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DTI still trying to ban firm offering drivers jobs in US

2nd September 1999
Page 6
Page 6, 2nd September 1999 — DTI still trying to ban firm offering drivers jobs in US
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

a by Melanie Hammond The Department of Trade and Industry is renewing its action against a company which claims to offer truck drivers a new life in the US.

London-based First Point International (FPI) reguLarly advertises in the national press promising to provide 'all you need to start a new life in the USA including the allimportant Green Card which allows foreigners to work in the US long-term.

The OTi wants to prohibit FPI and its directors, David Webster and Geoff Burman, from being associated with an employment agency on the grounds of their misconduct and for other reasons.

In February the DTI took the company to a North London Employment Tribunal but

the application was dismissed, The DTi is appealing against this decision on a date to be set.

This is not the first time that FPI has been taken to task by the DTI. In March 1998 Bow Street Magistrates Court ruled that FPI had contra vened the Employment Agency Act (1973) by charging fees to applicants for finding or helping them find jobs abroad.

It was fined £5,000 with £9,000 costs. FPI appealed against the ruling but was unsuccessful. Mike Lowell, who is responsible for

the enforcement of employment agency standards at the DTi,

says he has received several complaints about FPI. "People should not pay a fee to any employment agency which promises to find them work,' he adds.

Susan Tindale, FPI's vice-president of marketing, argues that FPI is not an employment agency as such, but agrees that the company does 'support clients in their job-hunting".

• FPI claims that more than 200 clients are participating in the USA Truck and Drivers' Programme, launched at the end of 1997. Fifty have completed Labor Certification, which it claims is the most crucial stage of the process.

Although it could not name anyone who has received a green card. FPI did invite CM to contact Cornwall-based Simon Cundy. who is due to return to Florida shortly for the final stage of the three-week course. He and his wife have paid £5,500 to FPI for the programme which, Cundy says, includes getting a Green Card for his wife.

"At the beginning, we were quite sceptical," he says. "but after going to Florida I feel Quite encouraged." According to Cundy, FPI has arranged guaranteed employment for him with a Missouri firm. He adds: ''You have to have an employer to get a Green Gard."

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