Contractor through Shepparton backpackers
Really poor housing conditions, low wages, hard work and long hours (10 to 12h a day), workers “not permitted” to leave the farm during the week, not allowed to use their own vehicle and had to pay a fee to get driven to town by the farmer. Girls were offered to stay at the farmers place “for free” while boys had to stay in expensive and unhealthy accommodations (up to 9 people in small room, 3 levels bunk beds). All workers were promised quick pay raise and easier factory works, but very few got it. I witnessed a female worker falling of a ladder, and being yelled at by a supervisor to “get back up the F* tree”. When I decided to leave the farm, the farmer threatened to report me to immigration to get my visa canceled, refused to drive me to town and never paid for the hours worked.
Work started at 5am, when workers had to queue and fight for a spot in a bus to get to the orchards. Once the bus were full, that was it for the day and you had to wait the next day hoping to get some work.
We were picking pears, working up ladders with sharp tools and driving tractors and trailers without any training. It was hot, long hours, frequent sighting of dangerous wildlife (spiders, snakes). The supervisors were rude and pushy for us to work faster and harder. A lot of us gave up after a few days. Most workers were from Korea and China and didn’t have a choice but keep going.