Last week over 3,000 people in the national horticultural supply chain came together in Adelaide to celebrate, educate, collaborate, innovate, and advocate for an industry which supports umpteen hundreds of thousands of jobs across the nation. I say umpteen as unfortunately no one really knows how many jobs indirectly rely on horticulture, a noticeable lack of data which really inhibits our advocacy efforts.

The week itself was fabulous! Those who work in the industry know how interesting, vital, forward thinking, innovative and hard working the industry is, and all these elements were reflected in the many conversations, forums, panels, and sessions.

But the week was also almost overshadowed by the government’s announcement that although every single peak industry body across Australia had rejected a guaranteed 30-hour week (without any averaging) proposal for PALM workers, that somehow, the government and unions decided that it was yet another great idea and made it happen!

Growers are workers too and deserve a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work. They also deserve secure jobs with secure pay, psychological and physical safety at work. Needs that don’t matter to unions and government who keep adding responsibility and additional burdens whilst simultaneously reducing profitability and production.

The rights of the employer (who is also a worker) seem completely lost in all conversations and debates. Why is it that there is only concern about one type of human? Aren’t growers human too?

Given government and unions, hereby now known as ‘govunions’ seem to have all the answers and no longer needs any industry collaboration nor indeed input, we now invite them to support our growers, who are also working Australians.

Our (starting) list of demands to ‘govunions’ are as follows:

Growers (herein known as ‘workers’) demand to be able to operate within a 38-hour Monday to Friday work week. We also want public holidays and 4 weeks leave a year. Don’t forget we want overtime. You will have to work out supply and demand across the globe and also consumer needs to achieve this given we are price takers, but it should be easy enough for the brains trust.

‘Workers’ (aka growers) demand to be paid for the work we do – you know, same job, same pay. Many growers are expected to perform the roles of IR expert, HR manager, finance manager, scientist, environmentalist, and business development manager at the same time – we can’t wait to see what kind of packaged salary deal you can get for us!

‘Workers’ (you’ve guessed it …growers) demand that fresh produce not ripen on weekends (or any public holidays) unless you can demand retailers pay additional charges for the privilege of that supply. They should be fine with it, consumers should be good with the passed on costs too.

‘Workers’ demand that retailers are no longer able to request that we supply them 7 days a week. This may result in you also needing to work with consumers worldwide that they no longer demand this supply chain work 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Easy peasy.

‘Workers’ demand you attract Australian workers to do the vital work of our industry. You’ve been asking us to do this for years and we’ve tried hard – it’s now up to you. We can’t wait to get a permanent supply of Australians wanting to do farm work, it would make life so much easier. Just a heads up, maybe you’ll need to improve our reputation as an industry before you do this. Nothing you shouldn’t be able to handle though given your new reforms.

Finally, can you do something about the weather? Its variability really gets in the way.

Yours, Queensland’s fruit, vegetable and nut growers workers.