Victorian veg grower raided over worker exploitation

Allegations that workers were being exploited led to a union getting special permission to raid a Victorian vegetable grower. National Union of Workers officials were granted special leave by the Fair Work Commission to raid A&G Lamattina & Sons' Boneo farm and demand to see all employment records.

But the search was halted when the family-owned business was granted an application for a hearing before the commission in December.

Lamattina Farms grows broccoli, cabbage, carrots, celery, parsnips, silverbeet, iceberg lettuce and cos lettuce, and supplies Coles and Woolworths supermarkets.

NUW industrial officer Alex Snowball said the union had raised issues at the farm numerous times with the company.

"We've been visiting the site for a year, meeting with a number of workers there and off-site about their concerns that they were being significantly underpaid," Mr Snowball said on Wednesday.

"In some cases they told us they were being paid as little as $10 an hour and not getting paid super or overtime."

Union officers raided the farm at 9am on Tuesday 15 November, but their search for documents was stopped when the company was granted an application to halt the search until a hearing before the commission in December.

The Victorian Farmers Federation said illegal work practices need to be stamped out in the industry.

"It is vital that all operators, from contractors to farmers, play by the rules and comply with regulations," VFF horticulture vice president Emma Germano said.


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