Migrant workers picking and packing Italian tomatoes are being paid 40 per cent below the minimum wage and have to pay ‘gangmasters’ a cut, in just two examples of massive exploitation highlighted in a report from the United Kingdom released last week.
SPC managing director Reg Weine said the Ethical Trading Initiative Report showed the workers were paid as little as 3 euro per hour for a 10-12 hour day to work on products.
‘‘Not only do Italian companies illegally dump their tomatoes in Australia, damaging our industry, but Italian tomato companies also exploit their workers,’’ Mr Weine said.
‘‘I encourage Australian shoppers to boycott Italian tomatoes in favour of Ardmona, SPC and Australian-grown and made retail brand tomatoes.’’
Mr Weine said Australian tomato growers were paid a fair price according to award wages and SPC was investing heavily in innovation and new plant and equipment.
‘‘We have invested $30million this year alone in a new tomato line at our Shepparton factory which will be commissioned on Australia Day 2016.’’
Mr Weine said the labour exploitation in the Italian tomato industry highlighted other issues, currently before the Australian Anti-Dumping Commission.
SPC’s case is about a fair go for Aussie growers, who grow clean green quality Aussie produce, and our SPC employees in Shepparton, who work hard to produce and package our range of Ardmona and SPC tomatoes.
Mr Weine said comments in the Italian media about the anti-dumping case were attempting to scare SPC’s Australian counterparts into believing that a fair decision on dumping will have wider ramifications for trade and cause difficulties in FTA negotiations between Australia and Europe.
‘‘We are confident the Australian Government won’t buckle to these kinds of threats.’’
SPC’s previous case before the ADC found 103 of 105 Italian exporters guilty of dumping in Australia.
The final recommendation on the case from the Anti-Dumping Commission to the Minister for Industry is due in January 2016.