This week saw the release of two reports about labour issues; a report by the Migrant Workers’ Taskforce and a report by Dr Joanna Howe at the University of Adelaide which was commissioned by vegetablesWA.
Most growers do the right thing but clearly there is a portion of our industry who have workers who may not have work rights or are being under paid. This usually happens through labour hire companies. These practices cannot be supported however we also need to find solutions, and vegetablesWA in commissioning this report and working with state and federal governments along with our fellow industry colleagues is toiling hard to get the results we need.
The reality is that many growers in many growing regions have genuine challenges in accessing labour. Particularly labour which is legal and productive. We need the federal government to introduce an Ag Visa which would give us legal and ready access to the type of labour we need, as well as offering the workers the protections from exploitation that they need.
There are many labour hire companies who do the right thing, however government also needs to address the rogue operators. vegetablesWA have been calling for a long time that a well designed labour hire licencing regime be introduced to achieve this goal. The state government has recently introduced an inquiry into wage theft where vegetablesWA have already renewed these calls, backed up by the work we commissioned from Dr Joanna Howe.
At a national level vegetablesWA has been working for WA growers by sitting on the National Farmers Federation Horticulture Council and other channels.
John Shannon – CEO