Driving a vision and culture of zero tolerance of overseas worker exploitation in the horticulture sector will be the key focus of a roundtable meeting to take place in mid-December, the Chief Executive Officer of the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF), Tony Mahar announced today.
“Compliance with Australia’s tough workplace laws is important but more is needed to deliver a vision for the sector with no tolerance for workplace exploitation,” Mr Mahar said.
“We have again seen in the media overnight further evidence of farm labour contractors using illegal foreign workers as well as suggestions that workers have been underpaid.
“We simply don’t want workers to feel that have been ripped off or treated unfairly.
“This kind of behaviour reflects poorly on the entire sector and we are determined to ensure that these practices are called out and stamped out.
“The NFF will continue in its efforts to improve standards across the industry to combat organised exploitation of overseas workers. We will stay the course on this.”
Mr Mahar said that over the past twelve months through the NFF’s Sustainable Employment Initiative the NFF had sought help lift workplace standards across the industry.
“We have held forums, published guidelines, checklists and template contracts for growers. We have worked with retailers including the major supermarket chains to distribute these materials throughout their suppler base.
“And we have called for an Approved Contractor Scheme so that farmers can make more informed choices about the contractors they use.
“Ultimately we need to develop a zero tolerance culture across the sector and to do this we need a strong vision and a coordinated and collaborative effort from government and industry stakeholders.
“To this end we have invited a wide and diverse group to the roundtable to take place in Canberra on the 14th of December including retailers, peak bodies, community groups and unions.”