When it comes to fruit picking, vege picking and seasonal horticultural labouring in Australia it’s only fair that Aussies get the available work.
Since the nature of the work is outdoors, manual, seasonal, short-term and remote (beyond public transport access) it is only fair that a commensurate decent Australian wage be paid weekly to the Aussie workers. It is also only fair that access transport and gear for the job be supplied by the farmer to the workers to allow them to do the job safely, properly and efficiently. Else it is only fair that quality free accommodation be provided for the workers. It is only fair that a reasonable amount of work be provided to the workers by perhaps multiple farmers within reasonable proximity, so that at the end of the contract period a reasonable income can be earned.
It is also only fair that the Aussie workers turn up and are reliable and disciplined for the farmers. So this requires keen, capable and experienced workers.
It’s a quid pro quo – a fair wage for a fair season’s work. Not for a few hours here, a day there. And by the other token, not someone who can’t be relied upon to turn up, work through and generate a reasonable productivity rate.
It’s not about exploitation of workers, nor is it about making the work so expensive to deny decent profit to the farmer.
Employing foreign workers below the Australian wage and workplace conditions is not the answer. That is scab labour or slave labour. It encourages a culture of exploitation and a culture of Third World migration to Australia by desperadoes.
Farm profits must not be at the exploitation of workers, but must be derived out of Australia’s lucrative fresh produce supply chain. In 2015, Coles made $1.7 billion profit. Woolworths made more than $2 billion in profit. There’s room to move profits around in the supply chain.
The task is one for industry and government to work on and not to continue to ignore. The lapdog Nationals have turned a blind eye to the plight of farmers all their lives.
Farm-friendly proposals for digest and debate:
- Ban imported produce from being sold at the same price or cheaper than Australian produce
- Tear all free trade agreements – they only benefit big corporate exporters, to the detriment of Aussies producing for Aussie markets
- Remove the concentration of market power by a few large corporations undercutting small retailers – Coles & Woolworths
- Ban supermarkets from selling fresh foods, so that small retail grocers can compete on price on a level playing field
- Address the oligopoly in the commercial fertilizer/pesticides/herbicides market which has caused price gouging for horticultural farmers
- Government to mandate clear country of origin food labelling Australia-wide, and enforce massive fines for transgressors
- Farmer co-operatives should consider low-cost cross leasing of horticultural equipment so that farmers don’t have to buy expensive machinery and be so beholden to bank interest. They already do this in France.
- Agricultural finance to be government controlled to stop the banks gouging farmers – the likes of ANZ, Rabobank, Elders, Westpac
- Horticulturalists to have reliable water access and fair water rates
- Instead of horticultural farmers selling produce, the various horticultural industry bodies with government should facilitate the supply chain to the retailers (transport, storage, distribution, marketing) rather than allow Coles and Woolworths control this and make massive profit in the process. The industry suits Coles and Woolworths, or the likes of overcharging Stockland and Westfield, but not the farmers, nor the retailers.
- The Australian consumer needs to part of the solution.
But as for foreign backpackers having to pay 32.5% tax on their working holiday visas, boo hoo! You come to Australia as tourist on holiday, not to steal Aussie jobs, you scab scum.
“Hot topic now in Korea is do not go to Australia, do not go to Australia, tax is going to kill you. You are not going to be able to eat, survive, live. “So they’re not going to come here.”
Bloody good. Piss off! And your exploitative labour hire firms can pack up shop too.
It is time to abolish the Work and Holiday (subclass 462) Visa and the Working Holiday (Temporary) (subclass 417 visa). And why the hell does the Australian Government state: “If you are the holder of a passport issued by the Islamic Republic of Iran, you have the option to apply for a further two working holiday visas to extend your stay in Australia.”??
But what has Liberal Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop done? She’s announced the Seasonal Worker Program would offer an additional 1,000 placements to more than 4,200 people. Workers on the program are from the Pacific and East Timor (Timor Leste) and can work on farms for up to six months a year.
Queensland had the Kanaka Slave-Trade to justify profitable cane farming from the 1860s. The American South did in on the cotton fields.
Slavery is illegal. Scab labour needs to be made illegal. Both encourage the wrong elitist culture, not for Australia.