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Putting the Crisis to Work

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posted on 2022-11-28, 23:08 authored by Victoria SteadVictoria Stead, Kirstie Petrou
AbstractAs international borders closed amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Australian horticultural industry experienced a dramatic reduction of key groups of workers upon which it has come to depend, particularly at harvest. These labour shortages focused public attention on the importance of seasonal labour for horticultural production and the availability of fresh fruit and produce, resulting in a paradoxical revaluation of that work. On the one hand, seasonal farm work was revalued as essential labour, and migrant workers were acknowledged as critical to Australia’s food security. On the other hand, the increased visibility of seasonal farm work highlighted its systematic devaluing as so-called unskilled work that is done for low wages, under often poor conditions, and that is widely figured through racialized narratives. Faced with the prospect of critical labour shortages, both industry and government sought—and largely failed—to reinscribe the terms by which seasonal labour was imagined in attempts to make it attractive to “local” workers. What resulted was an entrenching of uneven distributions of precarity, risk and vulnerability along the fault lines of race and migration status.

History

Chapter number

4

Pagination

39-53

ISBN-13

9789811931543

Edition

1

Language

English

Publication classification

B1 Book chapter

Extent

13

Editor/Contributor(s)

Stead V, Hinkson M

Publisher

Palgrave Macmillan

Place of publication

Singapore

Title of book

Beyond Global Food Supply Chains

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