Australia: Campaigners express alarm over exploitation of Pacific Islander seasonal farm workers

Author: Ben Doherty, Guardian , Published on: 3 August 2017

"Hungry, poor, exploited: alarm over Australia's import of farm workers", 3 August 2017

Each year thousands of Pacific island workers come to Australia to work on farms. Allegations of mistreatment are worryingly reminiscent of the era of bonded labour ‘blackbirding’, campaigners say...Many have been told if they complain they will be immediately deported without any pay – sent home in disgrace never to return – and that they will jeopardise the chance for anyone from their village to ever come to Australia...

The remittances sent back home are intended to put children through school, build new homes or buy land...But many have said the rewards promised in Australia have not materialised.... the price dropped...Men are now picking for...barely 40% of what they were promised at the beginning of the season...seasonal workers across Australia have reported being housed in substandard accommodation...Others have reported mice infestations, unhygienic food-preparation areas, and open sewage drains.

A spokesman for the Australian Department of Employment, which oversees the seasonal worker program, told the Guardian there were stringent protections for seasonal workers, who enjoyed the same legal employment rights as Australians. All employers of seasonal workers undergo stringent vetting and monitoring, the spokesman said...

[refers to Pacific Crop Harvesting]

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