Industry is aware of the problems of workers exploitation as discussed in the National Union of Workers (NUW) report, Speak Out released earlier this week.

“Growcom has long held a zero tolerance stance on worker exploitation and unethical business practices,” David Thomson, CEO of Growcom said.

“Through the Fair Work Ombudsman’s Harvest Trail Inquiry and other recent workforce surveys, we’re aware that there is a problem with labour compliance in our industry. We’ve developed Fair Farms on behalf of industry to address this issue with real impact.”

Thomas Hertel, Fair Farms Program Manager said, “Fair Farms is an industry-led third-party certification program for ethical employment practices. The program not only provides certification of compliance, but also supports participants with tools, information and training relevant to Australian’s labour laws in the context of horticulture.”

“The Fair Farms Standard requires that employers educate their workers about workers’ rights including available grievance processes and access to representation,” Mr Hertel said.

Fair Farms has been developed over the past 18 months in close consultation with growers, other supply chain members and the major Australian retailers including Woolworths, Aldi and Coles.

“We began with the national roll-out of Fair Farms in June and expect that a significant proportion of Australian horticulture businesses will join over the next 12 months. Growers have been calling for this certification for some time, because they’re sick of being lumped in with the unscrupulous operators that do exist in our industry,” Mr. Hertel said.

“Our objective is for Fair Farms certified growers to enjoy a competitive advantage in the marketplace that is driven by consumers who want to buy ethically-sourced produce. At the same time, Fair Farms will help weed out growers who exploit workers from the Australian fresh-produce supply chain.”

To date, supermarket chains Aldi and Woolworths have accepted the Fair Farms program as a means for their suppliers to demonstrate compliance with the retailers’ ethical sourcing requirements.

For more information on the program visit the Fair Farms website: www.fairfarms.com.au

Fair Farms is developed and delivered by Growcom with support from the Fair Work Ombudsman, The Federal Department of Agriculture and AUSVEG.