As labor contractors seem to be favoring larger growers, smaller growers in the New South Wales Riverina region are struggling to compete for workers.
According to Chris Stillard, a farmer from Barooga, the majority of growers were reliant on contractors to provide seasonal workers to harvest their produce. Stillard, a NSW Farmers Association workplace relations spokesman, believes contractors have “the whip hand” in the labor market, favoring larger-scale properties with higher yields.
Stillard said farmers had been left bidding for pickers, driving many growers like himself to offer wages above the award rate. In some cases, he said farmers were walking onto neighboring orchards to offer workers higher wages.