June 2018 | Migrant workers' exploitation can be fixed by unions and farmers, says expert

Date: 24 June 2018

Source: ABC

Unions and fruit and vegetable farmers can work together to end exploitation of overseas workers, despite many growers perceiving the "unionisation" of their industry as a threat.

That's the view of Adelaide lawyer Dr Joanna Howe, a leading expert in labour supply and migration, who has investigated systematic exploitation of overseas farm workers in Australia's horticulture sector.

The ABC has revealed power unions like the National Union of Workers want to organise the horticulture sector, saying it has been motivated by ongoing revelations of worker underpayment and exploitation in the sector.

"If the unions play a constructive role rather than a destructive role it could be good for the industry," Dr Howe said.

"There is an underbelly to the industry. There are a lot of smaller operators who do the wrong thing and from what I can see it is very difficult for authorities to uncover it.

"When there is union activity they provide vital monitoring roles, so when unions have members in a sector they find out what's happening.