Australia: Undercover investigation finds illegal foreign workers exploited on farm supplying to Coles & Woolworths

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Article
13 November 2017

Eat The Rich: Tackling Class And Inequality Is Essential To Eradicating Racism

Author: Lee Rhiannon, New Matilda

Many working people, the unemployed and the underemployed face difficulties in meeting their basic needs...

If you are a worker on a temporary visa you might be working in slave like conditions for labour hire contractors that supply food products to some of Australia’s biggest retailers such as Coles, Woolworths, Subway, Costco, IGA, KFC and Red Rooster. Many migrant workers are forced to live in subpar housing, grossly underpaid and sexually harassed. In some cases the conditions are so appalling that people have died from overwork, lack of food and medical care...

We need to do more to show that the system that takes away manufacturing jobs while leaving it to the market to re-skill the unemployed is the same system that is killing migrant workers...

Note: See here for an article with comments from the companies mentioned in response to the allegations.

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Article
15 November 2016

Fruit supplier to Coles and Woolworths using illegal foreign workers; incl. co comments

Author: Nick McKenzie, Fairfax Media

An undercover investigation has exposed the exploitation of illegal migrant workers on farms supplying Coles and Woolworths, as a Federal Government adviser called for reforms to stop the "systemic" abuse of foreign labour...

Dozens of illegal labourers on the farms said they were being underpaid by about $9 an hour to pick and package fresh produce that ends up being sold by Australia's big supermarkets...

"There is enough evidence to say that it is systemic," [...] "Significant numbers are really exploited."

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten called on the Government to deploy more resources to act "on these widespread and disturbing examples of exploitation"...

In a statement, Cutri Fruit said the company "would never knowingly exploit illegal workers from foreign countries".

"Our part-time and seasonal temporary workforce are engaged through contractors, as has been industry practice for decades" [...]

A Coles spokeswoman said the supermarket had referred the allegations about Cutri Fruit to the Fair Work Ombudsman and had launched its own investigation.

Woolworths said it required its suppliers to abide by employment and migration laws and would refer any allegations about a supplier breaching the law to relevant authorities.

Costco said it will stop buying Cutri Fruit until an audit of the company's practices is done.

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Article
15 November 2016

Supermarkets need to step up in face of exploitation of migrant workers: National Union of Workers

Author: Rachel Brown, ABC News

As another Coles and Woolworths supplier is accused of exploiting illegal migrant workers,the National Union of Workers secretary says it is time for supermarkets to step up and help change the system...

Following a joint ABC 7.30 and Fairfax investigation that exposed slave-like conditions faced by migrant workers in northern Victoria and southern New South Wales, the National Union of Workers recently sprung a raid on A&G Lamattina and Sons, asking to see employment records for every worker on the Mornington Peninsula farm.

"What [is] need[ed] is for the supermarkets to strike agreements with the workers having involvement in them, and then having independently verifiable audits of those agreements on a daily basis." [...] 

In a statement to Fairfax, the company said "A&G Lamattina and Sons is fully compliant with all regulations and are working with Fair Work Australia to investigate these allegations and resolve this matter". 

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