Local farm director: Workers not exploited here
AN INVESTIGATION by the ABC's Four Corners program has revealed that farms across Australia are treating migrant workers like slaves, with brutal working conditions and unfair pay.
Aired last night, the program told the stories of a "hidden army of migrant workers" who were being "ruthlessly exploited" to pick and pack fresh food destined for major supermarkets.
Natalie Bell, the sales and marketing director of Lindendale's Mountain Blue Farms, said it was time for the industry to work together.
She told ABC North Coast this morning they only employed workers directly, and did not use labour hire contractors.
During peak season, the blueberry operation can have up to 500 employees on its books.
"I can only say that what I saw (on Four Corners) was disappointing," Ms Bell told the ABC.
"We all need to work together as an industry.
"Supermarkets need to have a part to help us solve this ... but at the end of the day it really does come down to the employer.
"The employer is responsible for whoever sets foot on their farm, regardless of what's happening at the supermarket level.
"Industries are getting audited a lot, but is there enough ... we haven't been audited for a while now ... but the industry in general, the Australian blueberry industry, would be audited at least once a year, and it's sporadic, so you wouldn't know it was coming."