Workers at Perfection Fresh in Two Wells, South Australia - the largest tomato glasshouse in the southern hemisphere - come from many nations and speak more than 20 languages. These hard working people have many ideas on how to make your glasshouse the best in the world.
In return, they are asking Perfection Fresh to commit to providing secure jobs and a fair wage increase to help workers and their families have a decent life in Australia.
Since February workers have been negotiating in good faith with local management for a new workplace agreement. They have listened to management's concerns. They have made proposals and suggestions and amended their original claims in the spirit of fair negotiation. They have continued to patiently listen, but now workers feel stuck on a one way street. Local management will not commit to basic claims from workers, which will improve their lives significantly.
More than 230 people at Perfection Fresh have worked full time hours for more than 12 months, planting, twisting, pruning, picking and packing the tomatoes that go to Coles and Woolworths. But still they are employed as casuals. Only 70 workers have secure full time jobs.
Perfection Fresh has received millions of dollars from the South Australian government to support the expansion of the glasshouse. In 2015, the company pledged to create 150 full time jobs – two years later, these jobs have not materialised.
Many workers came to Australia as refugees and are trying to start a new life after experiencing war, persecution or conflict. As casual workers, taking unpaid leave to visit their family overseas is a scary thing because there is no guarantee there will be a job for them when they get back. This means some workers have not seen their children in more than 5 years.
Workers have been told that they will not be paid above the minimum wage. They are told they only deserve the lowest wage in Australia. That is the value of their contribution and hard work. Workers believe they deserve more respect. Most of what they are asking for will not cost the company money but will deliver some certainty in workers' lives.