OPINION: ABC reveals labour flaws

By Richard Chamen, Chair, Industrial Relations Committee

ABC’s Four Corners  story this week opened our eyes to the existence of labour hire companies operating in our industry that are robbing workers of their rightful dues without regard to Australian employment and immigration laws.  

This is simply not acceptable and most growers condemn such illegal practices.                                             

These rogue operators need to be firmly prosecuted and weeded out of the industry. They are tarnishing the reputation of our industry and are bad for business making it harder for everyone else to compete on a level playing field. There are strong laws already in place to address these issues, they just need to be policed more effectively.
It is important not to paint all operators with the same colour, there are plenty of bona fide labour hire companies that operate lawfully and which play an important role managing workers, often in large numbers for short periods.
The story is a wake-up call for all in our industry. Foreign workers, specifically those on working holiday visas, provide important supply of seasonal labour desperately needed by the industry.  We need to do a better job to ensure that all foreign workers on working holiday visas have a positive experience of our industry.
We believe, all stakeholders have a role to play. As a lobby group and representative body, NSW Farmers is committed to working with all parties to lift employment standards in the industry.
The Industrial relations services we offer our members is an important component of the support and advice we offer to members. We regularly run sessions to inform growers about workplace relations and how to comply with workplace laws. We encourage growers to be more vigilant in selecting a labour hire company to hire.

If the proposed contract price seems too good to be true, most of the times it means the company is cutting corners somewhere and it will be in your interest to enquire more. Member of NSW Farmers are encouraged to call our industrial relations advisors to receive assistance.
A number of parliamentary reviews of the working visa program are underway in which the government will look at all issues, including the “carrot” of a second year working holiday visa available to attract working holiday makers to work in regional farming operations. 
It is our responsibility as an industry to send a clear message to everyone that rogue operators with no regard to the law have no place in our industry.
NSW Farmers View, The Land

Published 7 May 2015

Contact: Veneta Chapple

Phone: 0429 990 218

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