FGV oppose Union call to end the Working Holiday Maker visa program

 

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M E D I A   R E L E A S E

11 August, 2020

 Fruit Growers Victoria (FGV) opposes Union call to end the Working Holiday Maker (WHM) visa program.

FGV’s Grower Services Manager Michael Crisera states that “In some regions backpackers (WHM) can make up to between 50- 80% of the horticulture workforce during harvest. The availability of backpackers ensures the intermittent supply of labour is needed when crops are ready to pick “.

If there are not enough workers to pick fruit at the right time, there is a risk that fruit will be left to rot on the trees. Working holiday makers are an important source of intermittent labour that growers need to add to their local, seasonal and visa workers. We need to do all we can to keep this labour option in place.

The challenges of the COVID 19 travel restrictions for both domestic and international seasonal labour will come to light as we approach key harvest months commencing in November and peaking in February.

FGV echoes the calls by The Australian Fresh Produce Alliance that “If the unions have evidence of exploitation of any workers in the horticulture industry, then they should provide this to the Fair Work Ombudsman and any other relevant authority, including the police and Department of Home Affairs”.