Australian union claims victory at minimum wage for fruit picking

The Australian Fair Labor Relations Commission has decided to uphold a guaranteed minimum wage for casual fruit and vegetable pickers in piecework arrangements.

Farmers will be forced to pay a minimum hourly wage of $ 25.41 ($ 18.94), even under piecework paid for the amount chosen by the worker.

The Australian Trade Union (AWU) began promoting minimum wages in July, claiming that piece work made it easier for vulnerable workers to be fooled or exploited.

The Australian Fresh Agricultural Products Alliance (AFPA), a leading body of fresh food producers and suppliers, states that under piecework, competent piecework workers can earn 15% more than the minimum hourly wage, risk and reward. He claimed to produce bargains.

However, the Commission rejected the industry’s claim that setting a lower limit on piece work would discourage more productive workers.

“The existing Peaceworker clause of the Horticultural Award does not fit the purpose. It does not provide a fair, appropriate and minimal safety net if necessary,” the Commission said in its decision. (pdf).

“We are pleased that the horticultural award must include a minimum wage floor with an inevitable time-recording clause in the piecework clause to ensure that it achieves the purpose of the modern award.”

AWU Secretary Daniel Walton I have written In a Twitter post, the decision was a “big win” to ensure that all agricultural workers choosing fruits and vegetables received “fair day wages for work on a fair day.”

“I believe this decision is one of the great victories in our union’s 135-year history,” Walton said. ABC.. “Australia’s fruit picking was routinely and systematically abused and low-paying.”

Epoch Times Photo
Fruit picking will harvest oranges on October 1, 2020 at a farm near Leeton, New South Wales, Australia. (AAP Image / Lukas Coch)

However, the National Federation of Farmers (NFF) called this “pain” for farmers facing another harvest with a seriously inadequate workforce.

“Increased wage costs, the biggest input on most farms, threaten to make the most productive workers affordable. The loss of these workers can afford our country. Will put a hand brake on agricultural growth in the absence of, “said NFF CEO. Tony Mahal said..

Mahal said the Commission’s decision was made when the industry faced an unprecedented labor shortage and was still suffering from a COVID-19 fallout.

“This decision is inconsistent with our interests and is a disproportionate response to the immediate problem,” he said. “NFF is now considering our next step.”

Agriculture Minister David Little Proud said he would process the ruling and warned of rising prices.

“Farmers have to pay for their produce, and the cost of producing that produce should be reflected in the checkout,” Little Proud told ABC. “At some point, when we haven’t read the final decision completely, we can speculate that this may put some upward pressure on supermarket prices.”

Rebecca Chu