Sugar, macas and tea trees share workers

SHARED LABOUR: Matching farmers with skilled workers.
SHARED LABOUR: Matching farmers with skilled workers.

SHARING is caring, and in this case, it means efficient use of the agricultural labour available in the northern Rivers.

North Coast Agricultural Shared Labour Pool is a pilot project started last August and supported by Sunshine Sugar, Australian Macadamia Society and Pure Australian Tea Tree Oil, with support from the Northern Rivers section of Regional Development Australia.

The idea is simple: to match farmers with skilled workers to fill short-term vacancies.

Businesses get a sustained relation with workers managed externally, while workers are offered a maximum of ten and a half months of uninterrupted work a year. Project Manager Chris Pauling said the project is aimed to address "an anticipated labour shortage of 100,000 people in agriculture over the next few years across the country".

The idea was for the sugar, tea tree and macadamia producer to "even out the skills demand across those three industries".

Ms Pauling explained that the work will start on February 2013 with the tea tree and macadamia producers, with the sugar industry coming along in June with full-time seven days a week operations until December.

Shared Labour Pool has also access to NSW Government funds to upskill workers for agricultural work.

"If you are a macadamia farmer and you need some people to prune and drive a tractor and operate a mulcher for three and a half weeks, you can call us and we will find people to match your needs," Ms Pauling said.

The pilot has been funded by the NSW Sugar Workforce Development Transition Project, which is also funded by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.

Employers must agree to a standard rate of pay for workers in award conditions, they must sign an agreement regarding those rates, safety induction protocols and protecting equipment conditions.

There is a registration fee of $100 for employers to sign up to the pilot.

Administrator Alison Kelly said that the project can work around worker's needs too.

More information for businesses and workers is available on

Topics:  employment farm workers jobs

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