Hi everyone, we are a group of 8 backpackers with Australian Working Holiday Visas and have been working and living in Pemberton , Western Australia. We worked for 88 days to get our 2nd year Visa: specified work in a regional area.
Through the backpackers hostel in Pemberton we got a job at a tomato farm – ‘Allstates’ in Manjimup. We worked there for about 3 months and this is how we fared.
We tried to contact the farmer – Paul Da Silva – several times. The hostel owner – Troy Della Franca – also tried to contact him about the missing payments. Most of the time we got no answer, sometimes we got promises that he never kept.
He was very good at making excuses: holidays, weekend, different banks, the wrong people got paid, the accountant was sick…
Later on we didn’t know who to believe any more: the farmer or the hostel owner. Basically the farmer said he paid all the money to the hostel owner and the hostel owner sayd he did not receive the missing money.
But we saw no proof of any of that.
Who To Believe?
We also got treated in an unfair way. Two weeks in a row the farmer let us know on Sunday evening that we did not have to come to work that week: the tomatoes where still too green.
At the end of the second week we tried to call him, to avoid the same last minute situation. He never answered or replied. We asked the hostel manager to contact the farmer. The farmer answered that all the plants died because of too much sun. Later he texted us they all died because of a hail storm. Then we met the Malaysians on a 462 Working Holiday Visa that work illegal on the farm and they had been picking for the last 3 weeks, 11 people, full time, 20 bins of tomatoes a day, no problems.
No Job, No 88 days Proof
All this time we couldn’t get a new job by the manager of the hostel, because it was so last minute – and technically we still had a job. We were short changed by these late cancellations as well as the missing payments.
On top of that we couldn’t prove the days we did regional work and did not get paid by a payslip that we needed for our 2nd year visa.
We contacted Fair Work Australia.
It was a slow progress, but after more than 3 months, we finally received our missing payments. Thanks to the hostel owner Troy, who we kept contacting the farmer about the situation, we finally got the money from the farmer.
The farm work was a fine ‘once in a life time’ experience. But the farmers should never underestimate the persistence of backpackers ;)
Please share your story with everyone and we can publish to the community.