The September 2017 HIN event, attended by 17 industry organisations, focussed on employment issues in horticulture (the Fair Farms Initiative, StaffSure), awareness of services available and obligations (Horticulture Code of Conduct).

Presenters – details & topics

Rachel MacKenzieGrowcomFair Farms Initiative
Andrew ParnellAustralian Competition and Consumer CommissionHorticulture Code of Conduct
Mark SchrammVictorian Small Business CommissionMediation Assistance
Simon Schweigert/Charles CameronRecruitment & Consulting Services  AssociationStaffsure  - labour hire certification

Key points

1. Fair Farms Initiative
  • Worker exploitation is “live export” issue for horticulture
  • Industry taking responsibility for industry – need to own and fix it
  • Legal compliance & customer driven compliance
  • Training – Hort360 (online, modular system  – whole farm check), standards & 3rd party audit
  • Fair employment certification
  • Working with supply chain for recognition of Hort360
  • Piloting program in QLD
2. Hort code of conduct
  • Mandatory code for unprocessed fruit, vegetables or nut growing farmers that sell through an agent or to a merchant to protect business relationships
  • Does not apply to purchasers of horticulture produce who sell directly to consumers, for export or processing
  • Horticulture Produce Agreements (HPA) are the contracts between grower and trader and need to be in place by 1 April 2018
  • Horticulture Code
  • What to look out for (Growcom) – method of price determination, food safety aspects, definition of delivery, non-compliance provisions, pooling (permission has to be given by grower), returns – and once the Food market Australia’s schedule is signed it means that grower consents to HPA
3. Victorian Small Business Commission
  • Engages with small businesss, advocates on issues affecting them, provides an efficient and low cost business dispute resolution service and monitors the impact of the operating environment on small businesses
  • Advocacy – e.g. Australian Supplier Payment Code(pay small businesses suppliers within 30 days, pay on time), reducing energy costs
  • Resolving disputes – licensing, franchises, buying a business, leases, service contracts, supply chain & distribution, unfair contract terms  - over 80% of mediations were successfully resolved No cost for information, assistance & pre-mediation dispute resolution, $195 per party for mediation either CBD, metro or at regional locations and scheduled within 6-8 weeks)
4. StaffSure
  • Workforce services include workforce contracting  services (contractor paid  a fixed price), contract management services, labour hire (or hire services) and placement services
  • Key elements  - fit and proper person, work status and remuneration, financial assurance, safe work, immigration and suitable accommodation
  • Benefits – independent audits, assurance, widely available register  of StaffSure certified Workforce Services providers
  • Pilot concluded at the end of August 2017 – key findings were that it is a national stand-alone certification, gave consistency across States, was clear and easy to understand and audits were mostly appropriate for the industry
  • RCSA

Industry feedback

“Agent/merchant to grower relationships are in the spotlight; so HPA discussions were useful and an ongoing issue; Fair Farms initiative is a must for all businesses; StaffSure presentation was excellent and look forward to filtering through system”

“This info is very useful for growers and how it will impact them”

“All contentious issues that are topics on national level not just Victoria”

Industry next possible steps

“I will try and organise a workshop with Vic growers to explain and go through the hort code ; plus add another info in next electronic newsletter”

“Publicise in industry – speakers already attending industry conference”

“Engage with StaffSure to implement the certification out into industry; something my industry and state bodies are very interested in and how the industry evolves”

“Promote information to our industry sector to ensure WHS compliance is adhered to”

“Talk to growers about Staff Sure accreditation, inform growers about VSBC mediation”