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Disgusting Seasonal Workers Accomodation Scam

An article regarding seasonal workers bveing ripped off for unfit for purpose accomodation.

$100 a week each for 70 persons to live in squalor. Some $7,000 per week rental for a dump.

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Tip of a very large iceberg?

As consumers most of us don’t see what is happening with the labour services used to help produce much of our produce.

The on farm labour in picking or crop management is as an absolute cost a very small portion of the shelf price of most produce.

The gap between the two dollar values is where the profits are made.

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It raises difficult questions - who is responsible, or who can do something about it. A labour hire firm goes to the local real estate purporting to be a couple wanting to rent a house. The house is then over filled with workers, the neighbours complain, the Council tells the owner to do something, the owner tells the agent to evict, the agent can’t contact the Lessee due to bogus addresses or the labour hire firm who avoid contact, notices to the address go unanswered.

This happens regularly in a town a couple of hours from us who rely on backpackers to harvest and pack. The labour hire deduct accommodation, transport etc from the worker’s wages. The Council is actively cracking down on people camping on beaches, reserves, roadsides etc which pushes more to these shonky arrangements.

Various government say they are doing something. Farmers, who outsource the labour side of things to Companies to save them during a time of heavy workload, wear the flack and Unions can’t do much. Language barriers, ignorance of Australian law and vulnerability allow this exploitation. Labour hire firms must now register, but had been able to hide with no address and only a mobile for contact.

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Think the general acceptance of this predatory exploitative ethos undermines the fabric of civilized society and must ultimately result in it’s collapse if it is not quickly and vigorously addressed?

Save them during a time of heavy workload, or save them from paying fair wages and working conditions?

Is it fair to suggest many of these farmers choose not to know. I had one a few years past explain how much of a problem it was direct hiring. How much simpler it was to use a labour hire service, and that it cost less. No more questions to be asked. No need to know.

In nearly any other industry the principal requesting or paying for the services would be held accountable. Ask BHP if it is accountable for any contractors repairing one of their subsidiaries mine accommodations. Consider the Pink batts saga as also included. Perhaps the rules are different this time.

P.S.
There are family farmers who care about others and there are many farms run at arms length in ways many of us might question are fair or reasonable.

Should consumers also hold businesses such as Woolies and Coles to account? Can they offer assurances about the sources of all their produce? Their response to the great ‘free range egg’ deception might provide a hint on what they consider fair and reasonable.