‘We’re not going to give up’: Farm workers protest royal farms
Farm workers in southern Queensland, Australia, are protesting royal farms for the second year in a row, demanding better working conditions and a wage increase.
Farm workers from the South Coast, and their allies from across Australia, staged a picket outside the Royal Farm in Kingsford Smith on Friday, with a message to Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and the government of her conservative predecessor, Annastasius Cretu.
The group said they were protesting the lack of safety at the farm, and said it was a “landmark example of how a large, well-known farming company can abuse its position and profit at the expense of the lives of vulnerable farm workers.”
“The farmers who work here have no legal obligation to treat their workers with respect, dignity and respect for their livelihood,” the protesters said in a statement.
“This includes the exploitation of the elderly, sick and vulnerable, who are vulnerable to the disease that afflicts them and the environment that sustains them.”
Farmers have been under pressure to make improvements since the death of a farmworker in March, and the protesters have been staging pickets outside royal farms in Queensland and Australia’s northern states.
Cretu’s government has been criticized for not doing enough to address farm worker conditions and for failing to secure a new $4.3 million payment for workers and their families.
The farmworkers have said they will not pay back the money.
Climbing the royal farms was the only way for them to survive the deadly coronavirus pandemic, but now they say they are at risk of becoming victims of the virus, and that their lives are at stake.
The protest is the second time that the group has staged pickets, after they held a picketing call at the royal estate in October.
“We’re here to demand better conditions for farm workers, and we’re not leaving until the royal royal farms has been cleansed of all royal royal abuse,” one protester, who did not want to be identified, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).
Farm workers have also said that the lack on safety at Royal Farms was an obstacle to making a living, and many of the workers said they have not been paid for weeks because of lack of pay.
The Queensland Government has been unable to reach an agreement with the royal farm, which owns the farm.
The royal farm’s owners have not returned ABC requests for comment.ABC News’ David Koutroulakis contributed to this report.