When David Littleproud first announced the Ag Visa, the AWU warned that rural employers would dump local workers and import cheap migrant labour to work on their farms.
A recent email from the Shearing Contractors Association has laid it out in plain terms. The Association is encouraging woolgrowers to get in on “some of the 700 ‘Non-skilled’ workers from an ASEAN country (most likely Indonesia but that is to be confirmed) who will arrive over summer.”
“The workers will be paid Shed Hand Award wages (not the higher rates),” it says. “This is not the only opportunity to engage overseas workers, just the first opportunity. Once the system is established, it’s likely you can engage the workers directly and therefore at a lower cost.”
This email is just like an order form: How many cheap workers do you want? Put in your request now so you can pay them a much lower rate.
We know this will be devastating to the young women and men who work as rousies on our rural and remote farms. For many, being a shed hand is the foot in the door to the industry.
If we import migrant labour as shed hands now, then who will be shearing the flock in ten years time?
The claim of a labour shortage in our shearing industry is complete fantasy. With the borders closed, woolgrowers have enjoyed high prices and production, and the flock was still shorn almost entirely by Australians. We do not need workers from overseas to get the job done.
The AWU is urgently calling on the Government to rethink this poorly planned, dangerous Ag Visa, before it cripples the future of Australian farming.
We need your help.
It’s time we stood up and made the Nationals actually put regional Australians first, instead of just saying they will.
You can email your local National MP directly, and as a constituent demand change today. It only takes a few moments, but if enough of us speak up, the National Party will be forced to listen. Send a message today.
We've proudly backed our shearing industry for over 135 years, and we'll keep on fighting for your jobs, conditions, and wages. If you have any questions, get in touch with your local delegate or Organiser, or contact the AWU today.
Thanks for your support in 2021 - we are truly stronger together.