Peak representative body for horticulture, Growcom condemns the mistreatment of migrant workers as described in the recent report, Wage Theft in Australia published from the University of New South Wales, and the University of Technology Sydney. 

Growcom Chief Advocate, Rachel Mackenzie said there is an underbelly to this industry which hurts everyone, including those growers who do the right thing and are undercut by those who don’t pay their workers properly. 

“Wage theft in horticulture is real and it is not acceptable, however we do need to remember that the figures quoted in this report are based on a self-selecting survey so are unlikely to be fully representative of the workers in this sector,” Ms Mackenzie said.

“That said, even one case of wage theft is too many. 

“Growcom has long been a champion of treating workers fairly in the horticulture industry and continues to make significant steps in assisting growers to meet and demonstrate compliance with workplace legislation.” 

This month Growcom began to pilot the national Fair Farms certification training, which aims to give growers the tools they need to treat their workers fairly as well as restoring confidence to customers and the wider community. 

“The Fair Farms Initiative gives industry an opportunity to establish a practical market recognition scheme that enables farm businesses to demonstrate that their employment practices comply with Australian laws and industry standards,” Ms Mackenzie said. 

“Growcom has worked closely with state and national horticulture industry groups, retailers and supply chain stakeholders to ensure the initiative meets the needs of all industry members.” 

The Fair Farms certification scheme will offer: 

  • A code of practice that clearly outline what farm businesses must do to comply with employment laws and industry standards
  • An online self-assessment against the code
  • Training options
  • Third party auditing and certification, if required.  

“There is nothing we and our growers want more than to have a reliable workforce and for that workforce to be ethically and fairly employed,” Ms Mackenzie said. 

“There are enough challenges around securing a workforce for our growers, particularly during peak times, without the added weight of stories which reflect poorly on our industry.” 

The Fair Farms Initiative is being delivered by Growcom with seed funding from the Fair Work Ombudsman through the Community Engagement Grants Program.

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