AUSVEG, Australia’s peak industry body for vegetable and potato growers, has defended Australian growers who were today attacked by several unions in their ridiculous calls to have the Working Holiday Maker program axed.
AUSVEG has slammed the unions’ claims of exploitation in the program and urged any union, worker or grower to report any mistreatment to the Fair Work Ombudsman.
“The claims from the unions today are absurd,” AUSVEG National Public Affairs Manager Tyson Cattle said.
“Australia has had a strong reliance on overseas workers for many decades and that was due to the fact Australians had proven that they do not want to work in the sector.”
“Growers would love to employ locals, and all farms do, but they simply can’t secure the numbers of workers they need, at many different skill levels, without access to international workers including backpackers.”
Now, with borders closed, there is even more incentive for growers to employ locals and AUSVEG has had many conversations with various levels of government looking at ways to incentivise local workers into horticulture. It will continue to look at realistic options that government and industry can take forward during what is a difficult time for many Australians.
“Banning the Working Holiday Maker program would lead to fruit and vegetable shortages in the shops and higher prices, it’s as simple as that,” said Mr Cattle.
“It’s unhelpful to anybody for the unions to come out with unrealistic and ridiculous claims. It’s reckless.”
AUSVEG is a strong supporter of a National Labour Hire Accreditation Scheme, which was committed to by the Federal Government at the last election. AUSVEG has also financially supported the Fair Farms program, which is supported by FWO and Federal Government, to help better educate employer obligations to growers. AUSVEG was also supportive of the supermarkets Ethical Supply Chain Sourcing programs as a means to stamp out exploitation.
“Industry, government and the fresh produce supply chain have made commitments to improving the sector and are well on our way to doing that,” Mr Cattle said.
“Growers need assurances that their labour supply will continue so they can ensure that fresh produce remains on the shelves for all Australians.”