The national body representing the Australian vegetable industry has expressed concerns about growers suffering collateral damage in the ongoing dispute between Polar Fresh warehouse and the National Union of Workers, with truckloads of produce being turned away from blockaded warehouses.
Workers at the Polar Fresh warehouse, which stores all chilled food for Victorian Coles supermarkets, are striking indefinitely as part of a dispute with Polar Fresh about better pay and conditions for their workers.
Union members have also established blockades at a number of Coles’ back-up sites, putting food deliveries at risk of spoilage as they are refused access to the warehouses.
“Even with some of the blockades being lifted, this dispute is continuing to have serious ramifications for our growers, with the ongoing disruptions to the supply chain having a significant impact on growers’ businesses,” said AUSVEG spokesperson Shaun Lindhe.
AUSVEG is the leading horticultural body representing Australia’s 9,000 vegetable and potato growers.
“While some truckloads have been accepted into these contingency distribution centres, this is coming after they’ve been held on the side of the road for hours, meaning that some growers are paying excess transport costs of tens of thousands of dollars,” said Mr Lindhe.
“We’re worried that growers are going to keep suffering collateral damage as the fallout from this industrial action continues to affect the industry.”
Some growers have said they expect to see eventual losses of hundreds of thousands of dollars as the result of the blockades, with potential financial damage including transport costs, deeply reduced prices for produce that has to be sold off quickly, and wasted produce that can’t find a buyer. 
“We hope to see this dispute resolved soon to ensure that growers aren’t left wearing serious financial losses as a consequence of other parties’ industrial disputes,” said Mr Lindhe. 

Shaun Lindhe, AUSVEG National Manager – Communications
Phone: (03) 9882 0277, Mobile: 0405 977 789, Email: