The Australian Banana Growers’ Council has written to the Queensland Premier, as well as the Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries, Mark Furner, urgently requesting the government commit to restarting the Seasonal Worker Program to help banana farms fill their worker shortage gaps.
The industry’s predicted workforce shortages are now critical after the repatriation of the first group of ni-Vanuatu seasonal workers on Saturday. Approved Employers of the Seasonal Worker Program were caught unaware, with no notice given by the Vanuatu Government to help get seasonal workers home or time to arrange replacement workers. This has left some farms short of staff to pick and pack fruit.
The commencement of weekly repatriation flights should provide an opportunity for an exchange of seasonal workers in areas where jobs cannot be filled by Australian workers. However, this can only take place after the Queensland Government opts in, to restart the Seasonal Worker Program.
The ABGC urges all farm employers and harvest job seekers, who haven’t already done so, to register now with Harvest Trail https://jobsearch.gov.au/harvest and to let ABGC know about your worker shortage concerns. Both governments use numbers on the lack of take-up of job opportunities in its worker strategy considerations.
If you have any further concerns or queries, please contact Leanne Erakovic, ABGC Executive Officer, on 07 3278 4786 or firstname.lastname@example.org