AUSVEG backs calls for clampdowns on 'dodgy' farm labour hire
AUSVEG is backing calls by Federal Member for Hinkler, Keith Pitt MP, for further clampdowns on dodgy farm labour hire companies, amid more worrying reports of unscrupulous behaviour by some operators in the sector.
AUSVEG has previously supported a crackdown by the Fair Work Ombudsman, emphasising the focus of enforcement activities must be on those labour hire operators doing the wrong thing.
"AUSVEG welcomes comments by Pitt published in the media today, calling for more to be done to help eliminate the exploitation of vulnerable workers by unscrupulous labour hire companies in the industry," said AUSVEG CEO, Richard Mulcahy.
AUSVEG is the leading horticultural body representing Australia's 9,000 vegetable and potato growers.
"Ongoing disturbing reports about the behaviour of dodgy labour hire operators are very concerning given the vital roles seasonal and temporary workers play in ensuring Australian growing operations can continue producing food for Australia."
Role of legitimate workforce contractors
Labour shortages remain a significant problem for vegetable and potato growing operations across the country, and Mulcahy said legitimate workforce contractors had vital role to play in assisting with the sourcing of workers.
"While reports of the mistreatment of workers are appalling in themselves, allowing unscrupulous labour hire companies to continue to operate also damages the reputation of Australia's horticultural industries more broadly, and makes it more difficult for legitimate contractors doing the right thing to survive," said Mulcahy.
"It is important that steps are taken to support those labour hire companies doing the right thing by targeting dodgy operators with the appropriate regulation and penalties. This would also provide growers with the peace of mind that the labour hire contractors they are using are legitimate.
"The vast majority of growers out there are doing the right thing by their workers, and should be entitled to expect that the labour hire contractors they are paying to provide a service are legitimate, carrying out required checks into the legality of workers, and ensuring correct pay conditions are being met.
"We are very eager to the see unscrupulous operators eliminated from the industry, and government enforcement activities should clearly focus on those labour hire providers that are doing the wrong thing, to stop rogue operators taking advantage of both growers and workers."