Fair Work raids on val­ley farms

Warwick Daily News - South West Queensland Rural Weekly - - News -

PO­LICE and gov­ern­ment agen­cies have raided Lock­yer Val­ley farms over al­le­ga­tions of work­ers be­ing ripped off.

The po­lice com­bined with the Fair Work Om­buds­man and Queens­land Work­place Health and Safety in a multi-agency com­pli­ance op­er­a­tion.

It came af­ter a tip-off from within the farm­ing in­dus­try.

The al­le­ga­tions in­cluded po­ten­tial un­der­pay­ment of wages; work­ers be­ing pro­vided un­safe and very poor ac­com­mo­da­tion, un­safe drink­ing wa­ter and un­reg­is­tered trans­port; and work­ers be­ing charged job-find fees.

The team con­ducted unan­nounced vis­its to four veg­etable farms over two days and has started a num­ber of in­ves­ti­ga­tions into po­ten­tial breaches by sev­eral con­trac­tors.

Fair Work Om­buds­man Natalie James said it was en­cour­ag­ing to see busi­nesses tak­ing a proac­tive in­ter­est in en­sur­ing com­pli­ance within the horticulture sec­tor.

“The fact that the in­dus­try it­self is will­ing to bring for­ward al­le­ga­tions of sus­pected non-com­pli­ance is a pos­i­tive sign,” Ms James said.

“Over a num­ber of years my agency has un­der­taken ac­tiv­i­ties aimed at shin­ing a light on the dodgy labour prac­tices and it is pleas­ing to see the in­dus­try take steps to stamp out these in­sid­i­ous prac­tices.

“It is bla­tantly un­fair for work­ers and it is un­fair for re­spon­si­ble op­er­a­tors that are do­ing the right thing to have to com­pete with those who base their busi­ness mod­els on un­law­ful ac­tiv­i­ties.

“It sends a strong mes­sage to crooked op­er­a­tors that we are on the case.”

PHOTO: BRETT WORTMAN

BUSTED: Po­lice and other agen­cies raided a num­ber of Lock­yer Val­ley sea­sonal work em­ploy­ers.

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