Migrant farm workers sent home despite news of new ASEAN agricultural visa


There are people in Australia who want to work on farms right now but their visas don’t allow them to.

Jamson Agin is a Victorian farm worker and is sent back to Malaysia, but his employers do not want him to leave.

Last week, the federal government announced new agricultural visas for workers in Southeast Asia.

The new agricultural work visa will be offered to residents of Indonesia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Singapore, Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, Brunei and Cambodia to help Australian farmers harvest their crops.

The announcement follows Britain’s new free trade agreement, which ends the requirement for UK backpackers to work on Australian farms for 88 days.

Mr Agin and his employers want to know why he is being fired as the government brings in workers from Malaysia under the new farm visa scheme due to be implemented later this year.

Rights at work, a permanent problem

Mark Trzaskoma is Production Manager at Battunga Orchards in Yarra Valley, Warragul and Thorpdale.

He said it was frustrating having to train people over and over again.

He says part of the solution to the labor shortage is already here.

“The government is starting to put something in place but we need workers now. With the workers already here, they could fix things now,” Trzaskoma said.

Jamson Agin works in the orchards of Yarra Valley and Gippsland.(

Provided: Jamson Agin

)

He said it was common for visa issues to hamper farm work.

“We meet a bit of that,” Mr. Trzaskoma said.

“Someone works for you, then they have visa problems and lose their working rights.

Support his family

Mr. Agin works for a regional Victorian fruit net company in Drouin, Victoria.

He has been employed by the company for two years.

Even though Mr. Agin’s home country of Malaysia is among the 10 Southeast Asian countries eligible for new agricultural work visas, he must fight to stay and continue the work he is already undertaking. .

“The reason I came here is for my wife and my children and for my parents,” Mr. Agin said.

“My mom is so proud to have a son who goes to Australia and supports his family.”

Reliable workers are essential

Michael Dawson employs Mr. Agin to create orchards in the Victoria area.

Mr. Dawson says that because of his family commitments, he relies on Mr. Agin.

“I’m a full-time single dad. I need to be able to get away from the job site every now and then and I can trust Jamson to get the job done.”

An orchard of apples and pears
Jamson Agin’s employer is tired of having to train replacement staff. (

Provided: Jamson Agin

)

Mr Dawson said the loss of workers due to visa complications was common in the agriculture industry and a cause of frustration.

“It’s a big problem for us in the agriculture industry,” he said.

“They [the Department of Foreign Affairs] just aren’t flexible at all. “

Responding to agricultural shortages: avocado

Lauri Stewart is an immigration lawyer.

“If the Ministry of Foreign Affairs [and Trade] going to ask people to leave Australia when they might be eligible to come back under the new farm visa, why are we putting our agriculture industry at risk by not allowing these workers to stay here when their employers desperately need qualified staff? ” she said.

Ms. Stewart believes the Minister of Immigration could remedy the shortage of farm workers by granting the right to work to those who are here now.

Meanwhile, Mr. Dawson wants his employee, Mr. Agin, to be able to stay in Australia and continue working for him.

“Jamson is just a great boy – he works hard [and] never complains, ”said Dawson.

He wants to work and my business needs him. “

The Interior Ministry has been contacted for comment.


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