9 December 2020

Credulous journalists continue to uncritically report farmers’ complaints about “lazy” and “unreliable” workers — meanwhile, research continues to show extreme exploitation is rife in the fruit picking industry: “McKell Institute researcher Edward Cavanough, who co-authored the report for the AWU, says some foreign workers are being paid as little as $3 an hour. ‘If workers were being paid the appropriate rate on these farms, it would be around $24 an hour. We’re very rarely seeing workers get that much,’ Mr Cavanough said. ‘Some of the stories have been absolutely harrowing. A lot of working holiday-makers are having terrible experiences with subcontractors. We’ve seen incidents of workers getting abused, trying to chase money from their employer. These are some of the worst cases of worker exploitation you’ll see in Australia.’ … AWU national secretary Daniel Walton said… ‘We’ve seen worker exploitation with passports being taken, we’ve seen sexual assault and physical violence. The concerning thing for us is that it’s getting worse, not better,’ Mr Walton said.” Strangely, farmers are very quick to contact journalists to make assertions, without evidence, about lazy workers — but they are very hard to pin down when confronted with evidence of exploitation by their contractors: “The ABC contacted three blueberry farms in the Coffs Harbour region for comment but calls were not returned.”