Horticulture industry employees will benefit from a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by Woolworths Group and the Retail Supply Chain Alliance this week which will see the organisations collaborate to safeguard the welfare of Australian workers.
The Retail Supply Chain Alliance is a partnership between the Transport Workers’ Union (TWU); Australian Workers’ Union (AWU); and Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Union (SDA).
The MoU partners will work to promote the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals of “decent work and gender equality across the industry, in the support of not only fair, but rewarding work for Australia’s essential horticulture workers.”
The groups will collaborate on worker education initiatives and industry engagement, including forums and workshops in key growing regions to enhance awareness of challenges and promote positive outcomes for all workers. “The practices of third-party labour-hire companies and increased transparency will be core to the MoU’s objectives.”
AWU National Secretary Dan Walton says: “Consumers want ethically sourced produce, and farm workers want a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.
“This agreement will go a long way to promoting fair and ethical conditions for pickers, packers and other workers in the supply of fruit and vegetables right across Australia.”
TWU National Secretary Michael Cain says: “The Retail Supply Chain Alliance and Woolworths are totally committed to ending all forms of worker exploitation in the retail supply chain.
“Labour-hire providers will be a key focus, as we aim to increase visibility and consistency in the experience of foreign workers, who play an essential role in the nation’s horticulture industry.”
SDA National Secretary Gerard Dwyer says: “Retail Supply Chain Alliance members want to create a more transparent supply chain, one that champions the welfare of all those who work in it, in partnership with farmers, unions, industry groups and governments.
“We are committed to a safe, sustainable, ethical, and fair system in which no worker regardless of their employment status, citizenship or visa status needs fear exploitation, wage theft, bullying, sexual harassment, unsafe work, or modern slavery.”
Woolworths Group’s Chief Sustainability Officer Alex Holt says: “This is an important milestone as we endeavour to partner with every level of the horticulture industry to promote fair conditions for the workers our country relies on.
“Australia’s farmers work hard to feed families across the country and are valued partners in this work to support the experience of pickers, packers and other workers in the supply of fruit and vegetables.
“We know there’s more progress to be made, and under our new partnership with the Alliance we look forward to deepening our engagement with workers, labour hire providers, farmers and legislators to create better experiences for the people who help deliver great Australian produce.”