Workers in agriculture, food processing allegedly being exploited

Foreign workers in the fruit picking and food processing
industries are enduring slave-like conditions, according to an ABC Four Corners
report.

In the program that aired last night, it was alleged that
the exploitation of workers on 417 working holiday visas is widespread.

The program claimed workers are working long hours, being subjected
to verbal abuse, experiencing sexual harassment, and being underpaid.

In addition, the program said there is a black labour market
operating. Labour contractors are hiring foreigners on invalid or expired visas
and paying them as little as $3.95 an hour.

The program alleged Griffith chicken processor, Baiada is one company which uses labour hire companies which exploit workers. It claimed
two workers were paid $18 an hour even though the award is $25 an hour.

Workers told Four Corners they were not allowed to stop to
drink water or go to the toilet for long periods of time.

Baiada, Australia’s largest poultry supplier, has annual revenue
of $1.3b. The company’s chickens are sold by Coles and Woolworths and it
supplies Red Rooster and KFC.

Following the program, the Victorian Government said it will begin an inquiry into labour exploitation in the second half of the year.

“We’re just in the process of putting some terms of
reference together and putting a committee together to actually do the
investigation,” Victoria’s Minister for Industrial Relations Natalie
Hutchins said.

“We need to get the message out loud and clear that
every unethical labour contractor that’s operating needs to know that these
activities won’t be tolerated in Victoria.”

Image: ABC