A Victorian Government plan to overhaul the labour hire industry won’t stop the exploitation of workers and will only add red tape to industry, said Victorian Farmers Federation.
The Victorian Farmers Federation has questioned the proposed reforms advocating for a national approach to better address issues around worker exploitation, such as labour shortages.
The proposed Victorian Government labour hire plan includes a licensing scheme and a code of conduct to regulate labour hire operators.
“There are plenty of regulations in place already, and we would rather see those be enforced, rather than creating a new scheme and further red tape for growers,” VFF Horticulture President Emma Germano said.
“The horticulture industry has battled growing problems with worker exploitation in recent years and the VFF previously affirmed its commitment to stamping out unscrupulous labour hire firms.
“It’s a mistake for the Victorian Government to try and do this alone, because this is a problem right across Australia and if each state tries to solve the problem differently, it will be a duplication of effort and just a waste of time and money,” she said.
“Farmers and industry have had several roundtable discussions with government on how to stop worker exploitation and we agreed there needs to be a process for the ethical sourcing of labour.
“A licence isn’t going to stop any exploitation. We want workers to come forward and tell the authorities if they’re being underpaid, but the most vulnerable workers are the ones who aren’t here legally, and they are not going to voluntarily give up information against their employers.”
Ms Germano said the Government needed to help farmers by ensuring a steady flow of reliable labour was available. The VFF will continue discussing with government the best approach to stamp out worker exploitation on farms.
“Farmers are out there trying to do the right thing and they want to be confident that the organisations supplying their labour are following the law,” she said.
The VFF wants strict measures to be put in place ensuring the rights of farm workers are recognised and respected to prevent people doing the wrong thing.