'I would've lost my crop again': Blueberry farmers praise Pacific Islander workers

'I would've lost my crop again': Blueberry farmers praise Pacific Islander workers

Pacific, İsland

25/10/2021 11:22:00 PM

'I would've lost my crop again': Blueberry farmers praise Pacific Islander workers

Workers from the Pacific Islands have brought much-needed relief to blueberry growers on the Coffs Coast, saving their crops from going to waste for a second year.

Blueberry growers say the Pacific Island workers have saved their fruit from being left to rot"Last year we went from 25 workers here every day down to about 12 people and that's where it really hurt," he said.Mr Thandi has 15 Pacific Island workers on his farm.

)"We have 211 seasonal workers currently amongst about 18 farmers," Mr Thandi said.According to Berries Australia, there are about 700 seasonal workers in the region helping with this year's harvest. They include Pacific Islanders and other workers sourced through a labour-hire agency.

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I thought all the big supermarkets had an ethical chain of supply statement now I do hope they’re all being paid properly Blueberries were selling for $2 a punnet for weeks at the local supermarkets. No wonder farmers need underpaid foreign labour. We have a long, rich history with our immediate Pacific neighbours and unlike backpackers they will remain close. NZ styled immigration status after proven contribution with Military Service options in a joint Pacific Navy and Peacekeeping Fleet would strengthen our home region.

Years ago a mate went fruit picking near Batlow. At the first farm the farmer touched her 16 yo sister's bottom & made lewd suggestions. They left. The second farmer didn't pay them because they were 'too slow'. I wonder why Aussies don't work in this industry? Maybe Australia needs slavery ABC, thank you for alerting us all to the true cost of blueberries & anAus slave market I cannot believe the spin on this.'They've been great, they've got great work ethics, they want to work, they're a minimal amount of headache, you tell them to do a job once they'll do it.'

A heartwarming story of exploitation being imported in order to enact downwards pressure on local wages and conditions. Could almost be a Disney movie. I too will be picking fruit this year. This farm will not make it into my shopping basket. And the hourly rate? They should be paid their weight in gold. Good to have them here

They are just to tight arsed to pay a real wage they want overseas slave labour time to boycott Australian blueberries

Australia's Telstra-Digicel deal about shutting China out of Pacific, analysts sayThe injection of almost $1.8 billion in taxpayer money to help Telstra buy the largest telecommunications operator in the Pacific is a clear attempt to block the rising influence of China in the region, analysts say. KillScomo Instead of wasting Australian money, AU government should persuade the US to buy it. AU is an economy entity much smaller than the US and China.

Telstra secures deal to buy largest telecommunications company in the Pacific with Canberra's supportThe $2.1 billion deal to acquire and run Digicel Pacific will be largely funded by the Australian government, in a move widely seen as an attempt to counter China's influence in the region. why do we need to waste money on the Pacific? Let China funds it n we just cut off all routing from Pacific standards going down prices going up Telstra secures deal to buy largest telecommunications company in the Pacific with Canberra's MONEY would be a more accurate headline - 'support' inplies incidental impact, NOT 90% of the cost. 💰

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Here in the Pacific, the climate crisis has already arrived'The energy consumption of Australians produces around eight times as much carbon emissions each year as Pacific Islanders. We are the ones left dealing with the consequences of Australia’s rampant consumption and inaction.' When needs must. You keep misspelling these country's names. ClimateEmergency

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Key points: Berry grower cooperative OzGroup has welcomed more than 200 workers from the Pacific Islands to help with harvest A lack of backpackers means farmers have struggled to find workers to pick their crops Blueberry growers say the Pacific Island workers have saved their fruit from being left to rot When COVID-19 hit and international travel was restricted, hardly any backpackers were around to pick fruit for the region's blueberry harvest last year. Stephen Thandi, who runs a commercial blueberry farm at Woolgoolga, said the overseas worker shortage meant fruit was left on the trees to rot. "Last year we went from 25 workers here every day down to about 12 people and that's where it really hurt," he said. "We lost literally hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of fruit." Mr Thandi is also a director of the region's largest berry cooperative, Oz Group Coop, which represents more than 150 farmers. Mr Thandi has 15 Pacific Island workers on his farm. ( Supplied: Paul Harris ) The cooperative has brought in hundreds of workers from Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands to fill the severe labour shortage under the . "We have 211 seasonal workers currently amongst about 18 farmers," Mr Thandi said. "They've been great, they've got great work ethics, they want to work, they're a minimal amount of headache, you tell them to do a job once they'll do it. "Without them I would've lost my crop towards the end of the season again." According to Berries Australia, there are about 700 seasonal workers in the region helping with this year's harvest. They include Pacific Islanders and other workers sourced through a labour-hire agency. The labour shortage meant thousands of blueberries were left on trees to rot last year. ( ) Win-win for workers Daniel Jim James used to work as a delivery driver in Vanuatu, but when the COVID-19 pandemic hit he lost work. "Most of us lost jobs because we have a small economy … so, the opportunity to come here is very good for everyone," he said. Mr James said when a post popped up on his Facebook feed advertising the opportunity to work on a farm in Australia, he applied immediately. "I grow up without a dad so I have to help my mum, my three brothers and my other [extended] family … my family depend on me," he said. "I've already sent money home four times." When COVID-19 hit Vanuatu, Mr James and many others lost work. ( Supplied: Kylie Hoschke ) Like Mr James, Melissa Gale is also working in Australia to support her family back home in the Solomon Islands. "I like working on the farm because it's a new experience for me," she said. "I've learnt the skills to pick berries, I'm getting much better at it every day I work." Ms Gale said the money she had made translated to good money back home. "It's big money … one dollar is roughly five dollars back in Solomon," she said. Ms Gale says it is her first time picking blueberries and she is enjoying the work so far. ( ABC Coffs Coast: Michael Luu )