Poultry processor Baiada Group has improved its workplace practices since last year’s findings of employee exploitation, according to a report by the Fair Work Ombudsman.
The Ombudsman last year examined the employment practices of contractors engaged at the company’s processing sites in NSW, and found exploitation of overseas workers by contractors and very poor, or no governance arrangements, by the company relating to the various labour supply chains.
A report published today details the progress the company has made in improving compliance with workplace laws at its sites as a result of entering into a Compliance Partnership with the Fair Work Ombudsman just over a year ago.
The Compliance Partnership involved Baiada last year publicly declaring it had a “moral and ethical” responsibility to join with the Fair Work Ombudsman to eliminate the exploitation of vulnerable workers by contractors at its sites.
Today’s report notes the important systems reforms Baiada has undertaken to ensure it knows who is working on its sites, and that they have been paid correctly. Baiada has also ensured workers previously underpaid have been able to claim backpay and, where a contractor has not rectified an underpayment, Baiada has taken responsibility and paid-up.
Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James said that while good progress has been made, the real test is the sustainability of changes over the life of the Proactive Compliance Deed and whether the culture has shifted to one of compliance throughout Baiada’s labour supply chain and across all its sites.
“The Fair Work Ombudsman will continue to work with Baiada and monitor compliance in this regard to ensure the progress continues to embed compliant practices throughout its labour supply chain and will once again report on progress in a year’s time,” she said.
Baiada Managing Director Simon Camilleri said the Proactive Compliance Partnership is a core priority for the company and has changed the way Baiada manages and operates its contract labour providers.
We have implemented significant reforms across our business to ensure contractors’ employees at our sites are being treated fairly and lawfully by their employer,” Mr Camilleri said.
“Baiada now has a stringent contractor compliance system that is rigorously enforced across all its processing sites.
“This includes Baiada taking responsibility for paying all contractors’ employees directly so they are protected from potential underpayment.”