Australian representatives of the domestic horticulture industry warn that changes to the Pacific Islander Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme in Australia could decrease the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables. Upcoming changes to the PALM Deed and Guidelines have the industry concerned about the future of horticulture and the broader issue of compliance by labour hire companies.
PALM workers must currently receive a minimum of 30 hours per week, averaged over their placement. But changes to the PALM Deed and Guidelines mean workers must receive 30 hours of work per week averaged over four weeks and from July 1, 2024, 30 hours every week.
Growers say they will be unable to guarantee PALM workers the minimum 30 hours per week due to the unpredictable nature of farming, such as when weather events affect operations.
The Australian Workers Union (AWU) championed the changes and said there had been extensive consultation with thousands of PALM workers. But Fair Farms grower engagement officer Donna Hogg said there had been a lack of meaningful consultation across the horticulture industry.