The AMIEU has placed relentless pressure on meat processing operators to pay up what they owe to exploited visa workers and backpackers — and we’re getting results.
As of September 2016, more than $130,000 in underpayments have been secured and delivered to visa workers at Baiada who were ripped off by dodgy labour hire agencies. Even more money has been secured from meat workers exploited at other sites.
We first exposed dodgy Baiada labour contractors all the way back in 2013, with the ABC’s Lateline program reporting on the shocking revelations we uncovered during our investigation into operators such as Pham Poultry.
Hundreds of employees signed a petition to the AMIEU outlining horrific conditions such as 36-hour work shifts without breaks, and hourly rates as low as $5. We also saw reports and witnessed first-hand cramped living conditions such as 30 people crammed into one share house.
Pham Poultry has now liquidated as a result of aggressive public campaigning by the AMIEU to defend these exploited workers and recover their money. But we refused to let up the pressure, appearing again on the ABC’s 7:30 Report in 2015 to provide more damning evidence of ongoing worker exploitation.
Thanks to our efforts, Baiada agreed to set aside $500,000 nationwide to pay back these exploited contracted workers who had been slaving away in their poultry factories. We believe this is the first time in Australian meat industry history that a principal employer has ever offered back pay to underpaid sub-contractors — a new gold standard for worker determination.
Our relentless campaign at Baida has forced the poultry giant to lift their standards nationwide. Visa workers at Baiada plants all across Australia are now given minimum award rates of pay, proper shifts and penalties, and paid correctly through bank transfers with full tax oversight and superannuation deductions.
Baiada has also changed their clock on/off system to prevent rorting, terminated relationships with further dodgy labour hire agencies such as HP Foods, and now works closely with the AMIEU to assist all workers.
But it’s not just Baiada. We assist visa workers all across Newcastle & Northern NSW all across the meat and dairy sectors.
In November 2014, 40 labour hire workers from Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan joined the AMIEU and provided us with evidence of sweeping underpayments at Thomas Foods Tamworth.. The labour hire contractor in question was using no less than seven different trading names to try and keep their operations on the quiet.
As a result of AMIEU campaigning Thomas Foods International took the unprecedented step of advising its labour hire providers to pay and provide identical terms and conditions of employment for all workers on site, including visa workers.
All of these great outcomes were achievable only because working people stood together and spoke with one voice through their union. It’s no secret that highly unionised workforces are the best paid, the best protected, and the happiest. The AMIEU continues to look out for the interests of visa workers and will always fight for their rights.
Read some testimonies from real visa workers here.