LETTER: Rejected from farm jobs for not staying at a hostel
I HAVE always wondered why backpackers were brought in to do the picking jobs that able-bodied Aussies traditionally did in the past.
After hearing on many occasions that Aussies were just too lazy and if they really wanted a job they would have one, I embarked on a bit of a fact find.
I applied for a few picking jobs and was told I had to be staying in a hostel.
I was never asked if I had actually done this type of work before.
I said I already had a place to live as I am Australian.
Never heard back from the farm worker recruiting company.
Over the years I have spoken to many backpackers who have worked on our local farms.
It's quite amazing really that the backpackers have put up with the way they are treated.
Jobs advertised at $22 per hour then slashed or after one day of being paid the advertised rate, they are being paid per bucket.
Apparently, to make a living wage or come close, one has to be super fit and experienced and fill many buckets.
I think it is around $5 a bucket and the backpackers prefer to pick big things as the buckets fills faster.
I have seen many fit young Europeans in pain as they are not used to such physical labour.
Now I don't blame the farmers.
I think they just want workers and they want good workers.
Where did all the good strong Aussie workers go?
Did they want easier jobs or did the farm recruiting companies step in to make some money off the backs of workers (they sometimes don't pay the backpackers)? A local would not put up with this.
Do the farmers know or care?
Then there is the matter of accessible toilets and drinking water.
In this day and age, this is not too much to ask.
Now with the proposed increase in the amount of tax backpackers will have to pay, I don't blame them if they now travel to Canada, where the tax is lower.
With all the horror stories coming out around Australia of backpackers being housed in really disgusting places in order to get work on farms, the sexual abuse, the low pay and the total disrespect they are given, it has really damaged the reputation of this industry.
I am aware that in Australia not all farms are guilty of this, whether indirectly or not, but enough are to make it a huge problem.
With all of this going on, I really think something needs to be done.
Also, in this environment of mistrust and unclear workplace safety regulations, not to mention the unclear wages, why on earth would an able-bodied Aussie consider this as a job.
Oh, that's right, Aussies are lazy and expect too much.
I don't think expecting a legal living wage too much to expect.
Nor do I think accessible toilets and ample drinking water too much to ask for; it's not like a cappuccino maker has to be available.
If there was an overhaul of this industry, more Australians would actually apply for these jobs and get them.