National vegetable grower body, Ausveg, has welcomed the Australian Labor Party’s plans to tackle worker exploitation, and is now calling on them to work with the Federal Government to implement a register of firms to clean up the labour hire sector.
The ALP’s proposed reforms introduce specific penalties for deliberately exploiting temporary overseas workers.
“Temporary overseas workers play a vital role in the Australian horticulture industry during peak seasonal periods, and ensuring their safety and wellbeing is crucial if they are going to continue to contribute to the success of our industry,”Andrew White, deputy CEO, Ausveg, said.
“However, it’s important to target the source of this unconscionable behaviour – rogue labour hire firms who take advantage of workers and then vanish without a trace,” said White.
To ensure accountability in the labour hire sector, Ausveg has proposed a scheme where labour hire firms would need to seek approval from the Departments of Employment and Immigration, the Australian Taxation Office, and the workplace safety body in their state before gaining accreditation as an approved firm and being placed on a public register.
“We’re pleased to see Labor’s willingness to protect workers and ensure that rogue operators don’t further damage Australia’s reputation, and we’re asking Labor to commit to further action,” said White.
“There has already been a reduction of over 34,000 Working Holiday Maker visa holders coming to Australia in the past two years, partly due to the damage that unscrupulous labour hire operators have inflicted on Australia’s international reputation.”
“While introducing new penalties and strengthening existing measures may act as a deterrent, effective reform is needed to prevent exploitative companies from being able to access workers in the first place.”
“By working with the Federal Government to implement a positive register for labour hire firms, the ALP could help clean up a sector rife with misconduct.”