Farm fined $60k for hiring illegal workers

·1-min read

A Victorian farming company that employed illegal workers to pick and pack asparagus and broccolini has been fined $60,000.

M&G Vizzarri Pty Ltd pleaded guilty in the Victorian County Court to recklessly employing nine illegal workers at its Gippsland farm in 2016.

The employees, who did not have the visa provisions to lawfully work in Australia, were paid under the award rate with women earning $14 an hour and men given $15 an hour.

No one at M&G Vizzarri checked the employees' visas, despite the business being aware of an online government system set up to help Australian companies with the task.

The Gippsland farm was raided in December 2, 2016, and the nine illegal workers were found packing vegetables. Time sheets showed the workers also worked other days.

The company should have known the status of the workers' visas and taken steps to ensure they were working legally, County Court Judge Trevor Wraight said on Friday.

The judge noted M&G Vizzarri had since implemented the relevant systems and had not reoffended, which showed its rehabilitation prospects were good.

But other Australian companies needed to be deterred from committing similar offences, Judge Wraight said.

M&G Vizzarri was convicted and fined $60,000. If the company did not plead guilty, it would have been fined $100,000

Sarith Kit, the man hired by M&G Vizzarri to source and manage workers, was last year convicted and fined $40,000 for his role in the operation.

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