Yeah he's not the sharpest tool in the shed John Alexander - what makes him think that farmers would even want people who are 'conscripted' to do that work anyway? The simplest solution is to raise the cost of those things to compensate for the fact that they have to actually pay a living wage to the people that they expect to do the fruit-picking; but they'd rather get tourists on working visas because importing people to work for less than half of minimum wage is the preferred LNP option.They had a number of fruit growers on the ABC the other day moaning they couldn't source enough slave labour to pick their fruit. My exact thought was tough, why don't you pay decent wages and attract locals. I would really like to see how much decent wages would affect the price of fruit. So an apple goes from 50 cents 65 cents. The growers, the supermarkets and the public would just have to wear it.
Trouble is the greedy supermarkets would probably start importing fruit from the USA, which is subsidised, by the low wages paid to the Mexican serfs they use to pick their fruit. Fruit is really cheap in the USA.
There are a few issues here
Higher wages = higher fruit costs = another reason to import and Australian's have by and large proven over and over again we have very little loyalty to Australian made when price is a factor. Don't be too disheartened, at least Australian and NZ made logo's are proudly displayed in Dubai Supermarkets and usually sell well as considered clean and safe.
Australia's Mexicans are backpackers.
Next issue, having just read a story about the BS some farmers inflict on their fruit picking staff including
- Sexual harassment including openly touching female pickers
- Physical assault including light whipping and smacking to give people to work faster and in one case a female farmer had to be physically separated from a picker to prevent him hitting her back.
- excessive living costs
- poor sleeping/living conditions
- fines for so called damage
- Even if fired or you resign, you still pay for accomdatation as most don't have own transport and cannot simply leave until the rest do.
- unrealistic rules of conduct and control of pickers in their own time
- despite being paid by the fruit picked which is a realistic expectation for the task, (hourly rates simply do not work for this type of work and industry), issues with farms having low yeilds which means more walking to gather less fruit and still being harassed by famers to work faster
However I did read of some pickers saying some farms and farmers who do look after their pickers and treat them with respect, pay award rates and provide reasonable and affordable accomdatation.
I'm thinking the solution here is obvious, an app for pickers to rate their employers, if it doesn't already exist. So those going into the industry for work can check on a farm (most farms have a name) for employment conditions. This would force some farmers to change through lack of workers or good workers.