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NFF must urgently clarify alarming food-for-labour proposal

August 24, 2022

Reports that the National Farmers Federation is advocating paying workers with “non-monetary benefits,” including fruit and veg, are deeply alarming and should be immediately clarified by NFF president Fiona Simson, according to the Australian Workers’ Union.

According to the media reports, the NFF is proposing changes to take “non-monetary benefits” into account when registering workplace pay deals, including accommodation, electricity, food, and fuel.

“The days of vulnerable workers being ‘paid’ with food instead of money should be long behind us. Ms Simon must urgently acknowledge that these arrangements belong in the history books,” said AWU National Secretary Daniel Walton.


“Some jobs in remote locations require employers to provide accommodation and life essentials. At no point, however, should this necessary provision of essentials be considered some kind of ‘service’ for which workers are expected to forgo pay.

“If farmers want to run bed-and-breakfasts from their properties they are free to do so. But they should never be allowed to force vulnerable workers to purchase that kind of ‘service’ from them.

“If you work in Australia you deserve the Australian minimum wage and not a cent less. No ifs, no buts. I don’t know why this basic moral concept seems so hard for some people to accept.

“I understand the NFF is going further today than they have before in acknowledging how serious the problem of worker exploitation is on Australian farms. That’s a positive change in direction. There are some other meaningful recommendations in their position paper, but they are overshadowed by this alarming ‘non-monetary benefits’ proposal.

“To engage constructively, the NFF needs to very clearly discard any notion that workers in Australia can be legitimately paid in food and essentials.”

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