Today, Woolworths has taken a big step towards eradicating exploitation and wage theft by committing to work with the NUW to clean up their fresh food supply chain in Australia.
This historic agreement means tens of thousands of farm workers employed by labour hire contractors at Woolworths supplier farms will be able to ensure their employer meets minimum standards and respects their rights.
Woolworths’ historic commitments come after extensive negotiations following a shareholder resolution that was jointly filed by the NUW, LUCRF Super and the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR). This resolution was aimed at ensuring that Woolworths had in place the necessary processes for managing human rights risks in their supply chains. With the labour rights agreement now in place, ACCR and NUW have agreed to withdraw the resolution, which would have been voted on by shareholders at the company’s AGM this Thursday.
In May 2015, members and officials of the NUW appeared on Four Corners’ Slaving Away program, which exposed widespread worker exploitation and wage theft. Since that time, the NUW has continued to campaign with farm workers to expose illegal workplace practices and negotiate better wages and conditions.
However, after more than two years of workers stepping up to change their lives, exploitation, wage theft and unsafe work practices still riddle the fresh food industry that supplies the major supermarkets.
We can build a fresh food industry that produces high quality fruit and vegetables and respects workers’ rights and good workplace conditions. We know that is what people around Australia want and expect from the major supermarkets. We can become a fresh food world leader by empowering workers to improve the standards in their industry