July 2018 | Migrant farm workers launch landmark $10m legal claim

Date: 29 July 2018

Source: The Age

Migrant farm workers from Vanuatu have launched a landmark $10 million legal claim against their former Australian labour hire employer for gross underpayment and mistreatment.

The Federal Court action against Agri Labour will use — thought to be for the first time — laws introduced by the Turnbull government to protect vulnerable workers from exploitation.

In May, The Sunday Age revealed that 50 workers from Vanuatu had worked in shocking conditions on a farm near Shepparton, and had earned as little as $8 an hour.

Some workers reported bleeding from the nose and ears after chemical exposure while picking tomatoes at MCG Fresh Produce.

The workers were brought to Australia by Brisbane-based labour hire firm Agri Labour, which has strongly denied the allegations levelled against it as "false".