Australian Fresh Produce Alliance commits to ethical employment practices

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Australian Fresh Produce Alliance commits to ethical employment practices

The Australian Fresh Produce Alliance says that it is committed to ensuring industry compliance with all standards of sustainable and ethical employment.

The major fruit and vegetable association's members collectively employ more than 22,000 people across more than 100 different locations. 

”As a major employer in regional and rural Australia of both local and temporary migrant workers, it is vitally important that we create a culture of active management by improving the sector’s employment practices and reputation, including proactively meeting all employment and duty of care obligations”, says Alliance CEO, Michael Rogers.

To do this, the alliance says it will work with retailers, suppliers, the government, and their grower networks.

This could be greatly significant for the 72,800 people working across the 11,490 businesses in Australian horticulture, it emphasizes.

Alliance member data shows most full-time roles are filled by Australian citizens.

Many harvest and temporary roles, on the other hand, are more likely to be filled via specific programs and visas; these include the Pacific Seasonal Worker Scheme and Working Holiday Makers visa.

“Due to the time-sensitive and seasonal nature of harvesting fresh produce, it is vitally important that growers have access to a workforce that is mobile and readily available to harvest crops to optimize returns based on the seasonal nature of fresh produce production”, comments Rogers.

“We are focused on improving the sector’s employment practices and reputation. This is particularly important under the new Modern Slavery Act 2018, which addresses responsibility throughout the supply chain.”

Australian Fresh Produce Alliance urges for "consistent regulation" of labor-hire companies

The alliance says it's also seeking greater integration between ethical auditing programs.

Specifically, it notes its aims to reduce duplication and cost associated with multiple audits, record keeping requirements and compliance criteria.

“While farmers are working to meet all requirements, it is also essential that consistent regulation and certification of labor-hire companies is implemented," explains Rogers.

"This will make sure all industry players are meeting the required standards. It should be accompanied by an increase in the number of approved third-party auditors to ensure compliance.”

The alliance says it hopes its efforts help to provide a sustainable workforce for the nation's fresh produce industry.

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