The rot at the heart of our fruit-picking industry
Sunraysia, in Victoria’s north known for its table grapes, vineyards, citrus fruit, and olives. It is a popular working holiday destination, with plenty of work on the fruit blocks for migrant labourers.
Some are celebrating as a victory the removal of some of the clauses in the Omnibus bill on industrial relations. The ACTU and other union bodies are claiming victory, and certainly, some onerous provisions have been removed. The organised sector of the working class has had some benefit but the attack on all workers has continued.
The Morrison government has created The Employer Reporting Line allowing “employers to report jobseekers for declining or voluntarily leaving a ‘suitable’ job, demonstrating ‘misconduct’ during a job interview, or failing to attend one, and submitting an ‘inappropriate’ job application” (SBS).
Thursday 25th March marked four weeks since workers at McCormick Foods factory went on strike late in February. Workers, with the support of the community, have been operating a 24/7 picket out the front of the factory in Clayton South in Victoria.
The Coalition’s omnibus industrial relations bill was torn apart in the Senate on Thursday 18th March, leaving only the section on casuals intact. On the same day Parliament passed a bill for the (pre-COVID base rate) unemployment benefit (JobSeeker) to be increased by an insulting and punitive $25 a week – just $3.57 a day extra – when the COVID supplement ceases at the end of March. JobKeeper is being withdrawn at the same time.