The AWU has seen inside some shipping containers, sheds and homes around the Coffs Harbour region that workers are expected to live in and says they're often packed in like sardines, yet charged well above what you would expect for such low standards.
The AWU has seen inside some shipping containers, sheds and homes around the Coffs Harbour region that workers are expected to live in and says they're often packed in like sardines, yet charged well above what you would expect for such low standards.

Berries Australia says majority of farmers do right thing

BERRIES Australia chair Peter McPherson has accused the Coffs Coast Advocate's editor of portraying farmers in a poor light.

It is the peak industry body for Australian berry growers and was responding to a recent article by editor Janine Watson in relation to plans for a 'Gap Year at Home' program.

A parliamentary committee on migration has unanimously recommended the program to encourage school and university graduates to spend time doing agricultural and horticultural work.

But the Australian Workers' Union says the proposal is a distraction from the main issue keeping unemployed Australians from working on farms: rampant law breaking by employers.

FULL STORY: Appalling picker conditions the 'elephant in the room'

The local berry industry is worth $350m according to Berries Australia chair Peter McPherson.
The local berry industry is worth $350m according to Berries Australia chair Peter McPherson.

Berries Australia chair Peter McPherson wrote the following letter to the editor in response to the recent article:

Janine Watson in yet another of her articles seeking to portray local farmers in a poor light (Advocate, September 21 - Appalling picker conditions the elephant in the room), airs a number of unsubstantiated allegations made by the Australian Workers' Union (AWU) as to the pay and conditions for harvest workers in the Coffs Harbour region.

If the AWU and indeed Ms Watson has any evidence of illegal behaviour then they should provide this to the Fair Work Ombudsman and where appropriate local law enforcement.

In doing so they would have the full support of the large majority of farmers who do the right thing.

This would be surely preferable to rushing to publish claims which appear to suit Ms Watson's relentlessly negative narrative about local farmers and in particular the $350 million local berry industry.

Peter McPherson,

Chair Berries Australia

South Lismore



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