Ombudsman inquiry reveals worker abuse in central Victoria

BENDIGO MP Lisa Chesters has called on the region’s food manufacturers to guarantee they are not exploiting foreign workers in the country on worker-holiday visas.

WIDESPREAD: A report details worker exploitation in the food sector. Picture: FILE SHOT

WIDESPREAD: A report details worker exploitation in the food sector. Picture: FILE SHOT

The Fair Work Ombudsman has scrutinised the employment conditions of more than 4000 “backpacker” visa holders in rural areas and uncovered evidence of widespread exploitation.

The investigation found that one-in-three 417 visa holders were not receiving legal minimum pay rates and many had been subjected to sexual harassment and health and safety violations.

Ms Chesters said that for too long local food manufacturers had “hidden behind their labour hire agencies who engage temporary overseas workers to work in their factories”.

“I call on local food manufacturers to guarantee this unethical behaviour is not occurring in their workplaces,” she said.

“This FWO report reveals how this model of sham contracting works; how it exploits vulnerable backpackers and costs local jobs for young Australians.”

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