Migrant workers are being left in limbo due to the uncertainty of ever changing travel restrictions and border closures, and no guaranteed access to safe and affordable healthcare amidst the global coronavirus pandemic. They are also facing the same key issue that all insecure workers in Australia are facing: Can they afford to self-isolate?
United Workers Union spokesperson Jannette Armstrong said, “Without urgent support and clarity, Australia may see tens of thousands of visa workers stranded with invalid visas, or departing the country early leaving huge holes in some of our essential workforces.
“Australia’s supply of fresh produce is crucially dependent on temporary migrant workers. The labour of temporary and undocumented workers has held up the fresh produce industry in Australia for years.
“As casual workers and non-citizens, temporary migrant workers do not have the visa security, wage support and access to healthcare they need to be protected in this national health crisis.
“Swift government action is required to ensure workers who are in the country now can have their visa status resolved. They need support and guaranteed protections so they can get on with the job of picking and packing fruit and vegetables in growing regions throughout Australia,” she said.
Ms Armstrong said, “These measures, if implemented successfully, will help ensure those on the front line in our farms and packing houses are able to do their job safely. It will also create the necessary conditions for industry stakeholders and governments to work together to manage a stable, safe and protected workforce in this time of national crisis.
“The current COVID-19 outbreak and restrictions around international travel have created the dangerous possibility that fruit and vegetables could be left to rot if adequate workforce numbers cannot be assured, and the health, safety and rights of migrant workers cannot be adequately protected,” she said.
Media Contact: 1300 898 633, [email protected]