Case of Interest: Seasonal Worker Programme

Coles and Woolworths are facing pressure to boycott suppliers linked to the exploitation of migrant workers, amid a push to address ongoing issues within the labour hire industry.

The Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR) has raised concerns with both supermarkets about the accreditation of labour-hire providers in their domestic supply chains. There are concerns the supermarkets are continuing trade with labour hire providers found to have violated Fair Work laws.

Under Woolworths' policies, a labour-hire provider must be accredited through one of three systems: the state licensing system for labour hire; be considered an approved employer on the Australian Government's Seasonal Worker Programme; or be accredited by the certification scheme, StaffSure.

The ACCR named Brisbane-based company Agri Labour Australia as one of several companies linked to claims of underpayment and poor working conditions.

Last week, Agri Labour Australia Pty Ltd was forced to pay $50,823 to 19 Vanuatu nationals, who were employed under the Seasonal Worker Programme between December 2017 and April 2018.

Despite the revelations, the company still has a working relationship with retailers who supply to Woolworths, is still licensed by the Queensland Government and certified by StaffSure. It is not however listed as an approved employer on the Australian Government's Seasonal Worker Programme.

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