The Dairy Farm Workers Association (DFWA) is an organisation committed to improving farm workers’ rights by providing them with access to support and a network of fellow workers. Our long-term goal is to establish more equitable employment standards in the industry. We believe that establishing standards is beneficial for the dairy industry as a whole because it will foster more fruitful relationships between workers and employers, thus increasing workplace satisfaction and productivity.
What makes DFWA unique is that our assistance is specifically catered to farm workers and managers, rather than owners and employers. This makes us one of the only organisations in New Zealand where farm workers can go for targeted assistance. In order to help farm workers on issues relating to their employment rights, we offer a range of services: information on rights and obligations in employment, telephone advice, mentoring, a forum for knowledge-sharing between members and other useful resources. Some of these services will only be available to members, who will also receive a hard-copy start-up information pack once subscribed. With our help, workers will be able to identify when they are being mistreated by their employers.
We operate under the philosophy that prevention is better than cure. This means engaging in proactive measures of knowledge-sharing and empowerment so that workers do not need to go down an extremely stressful path to resolve serious workplace issues in the first place. Our focus is therefore more about guidance on rights and less about dispute resolution, which should only be a final port of call. It also means addressing problems with sustainable solutions. And this is where the importance of creating industry standards lies – so that workers gain the assurance that workplace conflicts are not going to continue to arise.
There is a massive imbalance of power between farm workers and employers within the workplace, and in many cases outside the workplace where employers provide accommodation. We hope to be able to redress these kinds of imbalances. For this reason, a standard needs to be set in the dairy industry. DFWA identifies the need for farm workers to act collectively and provides a tight-knit network of workers; it provides dairy workers with power in numbers. So join others like you!
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