Orchardists taking care of workers
THE horticultural industry has been accused of mistreating backpackers, but one business has fought back.
North Burnett citrus growers Ken and Megan Roth said they went “above and beyond” to look after their workers.
“We make it our mission to get to know them all and look after their emotional and physical wellbeing,” Mrs Roth said.
She feared the whole industry would suffer due to one or two rogue operators.
Megan Roth Backpackers are making more money than we are
FOLLOWING a Four Corners episode exposing exploitation of backpackers in the Queensland horticulture industry, employers have responded, saying this behaviour is not across the board.
Gayndah citrus growers Ken and Megan Roth said their business had run successfully for more than 20 years thanks to good working relationships with backpackers.
“Our workers have a really good work ethic and we couldn’t manage without them,” Mrs Roth said.
She worried the industry was let down by a few rogue operators, but said they were the exception.
“I think a few dodgy contractors have been highlighted, not actually growers,” Mrs Roth said.
She said her business and others in the North Burnett prided themselves on maintaining above-board working conditions.
“I truly believe people in Gayndah and Mundubbera, like ourselves, are going above and beyond to look after our workers,” Mrs Roth said.
“We make it our mission to get to know them all and look after their emotional and physical wellbeing.”
From her experience, Mrs Roth said backpackers were just as reliant on the fruit picking industry as it was on them.
“If they do 80 days, then they get to stay in Australia for a second year,” she said.
“If they’re prepared to work from early April to early June, they can get that done.”
Mrs Roth said there was also decent money to be made.
“Backpackers are making more money than we are,” she said.
“They’re here to make money and make money they are.”
Mrs Roth said the horticultural business was just like any other and you needed to work hard for a return.
“They have to be prepared to put in a reasonable day’s effort and be productive,” she said.
She hoped one or two rogue employers would not ruin it for the whole industry.
“I hate to think we would lose our workforce,” she said.
IN SAFE HANDS: Italian backpacker Serena Fantini, 24 (left), says it's been a great season working for Megan Roth (right).
FRUIT PICKING: Italian backpacker Serena Fantini, 24 (right), says it's been a great season and working for Megan Roth (left) is "a lot of fun".