Peak woolgrower representative body, WoolProducers Australia (WoolProducers) has called out the Australian Workers Union (AWU) on incorrect statements regarding the current shearer shortage.
The AWU has recently issued a media release stating that “Farmers and pastoralists are normally able to get away with paying below award rates because they bring in around 500 workers each year from New Zealand.”
WoolProducers CEO, Ms Jo Hall said “The AWU’s claim of woolgrowers ‘normally’ paying below award rates for shearers is simply false and misleading”.
“NSW and Victoria are currently in the midst of a shearer shortage and we are hearing of well above award rates being paid to get sheep shorn. There are a number of reasons for this current shortage but paying below the award is not one of them”. Ms Hall said.
The AWU’s media release also says that industry concerns about a shearer shortage ‘haven’t eventuated’ and then makes a contradictory statement about the industry having a current labour shortage.
Ms Hall said, “The statement relating to a shearer shortage having not eventuated could not be further from the truth. It has been widely reported that as a result of delaying shearing by up to two months some woolgrowers are producing wool which is longer than ideal for downstream processors, resulting in discounted sales prices”.
“WoolProducers are hearing anecdotally of shearers being paid by growers double the award in order to get sheep shorn, while many NSW and Victorian shearing contractors are paying shearers $4, which is well above the $3.26 award rate”.
“The reason that these rates are being paid is supply and demand, there are simply not enough shearers to do the job at this point in time. The AWU are out of touch and making baseless statements does nothing to address the issue”. Ms Hall said.
WoolProducers are coordinating efforts with relevant industry stakeholders to address this issue and have been working constructively with the Shearing Contractors Association of Australia.