Australia

Calls for a royal commission after report reveals backpackers paid $3 an hour on NSW blueberry farms

Farm workers were paid only $ 3 per hour to harvest blueberries on the North Coast of New South Wales. The exposure required a Royal Commission on the fire-free horticultural sector.

The McKell Institute has released a three-month study of blueberry work around Coffs Harbor.

The blockade of the coronavirus caused thousands of backpackers to flock to the region earlier this year due to oversupply of labor, in contrast to other parts of Australia.

Natalie Trigwell, 46, lost her home in a wildfire near the town of Nimbin, New South Wales, lived in a camper van, and got a job picking berries from pure despair.

“When I went there, I found that I was making $ 15 to $ 20 a day,” she said in a report.

Ms. Trigwell said the fire was so close to the orchard that she couldn’t see the berries.

She claims that the contractor won’t let her leave because there is no phone reception.

“And I went out. I didn’t get paid for three weeks of work for that person.”

Backpackers and other migrants are talking about similar exploitation, including wages well below the minimum wage, seven working weeks, and other abuses.

Another worker, Sally, was spammed with about 2,000 messages calling her “pigs” and “dogs” after asking the workers to pay the rest.

A 28-year-old German backpacker earned just $ 3 an hour on a shift and an average of $ 6.21 an hour on a 17-day job with a local contractor.

Call on the Royal Commission

Daniel Walton, national secretary of the Australian Trade Union, said the exploitation of ideas on the farm was limited to some bad apples that needed to be laid down.

“This shocking new report can be added to a pile of studies showing that Australian farms are a breeding ground for wage theft, exploitation and worker abuse,” he said.

“It’s not just Coffs Harbor. Choose a location on the map and you’ll find exorbitant exploitation.”

Secretary of State Daniel Walton of AWU says “exorbitant exploitation” is taking place on farms across Australia.

AAP

Walton called on Agriculture Minister David Littleproud to support the Royal Commission.

“Never say,” Little Proud said, but he supports solving the problem through strengthened and harmonious state law.

“That’s shameful. There’s no other way to coat it with sugar,” he told Sky News.

He said the problem was limited to the minority and could damage the reputation of farming.

The report calls for crackdowns on fraudulent recruiters, stronger penalties, stronger enforcement from workplace investigators, and reforms to Australia’s visa system.

It also discusses new legislation that will require farmers to pay a minimum hourly wage.

Research has shown that dangerous worker hiring companies have hired Facebook, WeChat, and Gumtree to mispromote fruit picking as a high-paying and fun job.

Lead author Ed Kabanou also observed a cluster of shipping containers converted into four-bed dormitories for Pacific Islands workers rented at suburban home prices.

Backpackers paid up to $ 150 per person to live in a share house of 9 to 12 people, earning three times the median rent on some outskirts of Coffs Harbor.



Calls for a royal commission after report reveals backpackers paid $3 an hour on NSW blueberry farms Source link Calls for a royal commission after report reveals backpackers paid $3 an hour on NSW blueberry farms

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