Unions welcome state inquiry into rogue labour hire firms

Queensland unions have welcomed announcement today of a Palaszczuk government inquiry into rogue labour hire companies operating in the state.

Regulation and licensing of labour hire firms is the first step in ending the slave worker market engulfing Australia’s food supply chain, unions say.

Queensland Council of Unions General Secretary Ros McLennan commended the state government for taking action after disturbing claims of slavery, exploitation and abuse were made on an ABC 4 Corners report earlier this year.

She said the QCU would be making a submission to the inquiry, which is expected to report by June 2016.

“The state government is showing the need to monitor and regulate the entire temporary visa and labour hire system. The rogue operators need to be stamped out,” she said.

She also called on major supermarkets to ensure their food supply chains used legitimate labour practices.

“Queenslanders love to know their food has been grown, picked and packed locally, but not at the expense of basic working rights,” Ms McLennan said.

“The Inquiry will be able to investigate the disturbing claims of labour hire workers subjected to exploitation, bullying and sexual harassment. It shouldn’t be tolerated in any civilized country, and certainly not in Queensland.”

The National Union of Workers was instrumental in exposing these outrageous practices. Bundaberg featured prominently in the report, with claims of abuse and underpayment by farm owners and labour hire firms.