Australian Union Claims Victory for Fruit Picking Minimum Wage

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The Australian Fair Work Commission has ruled successful favour of a guaranteed minimum wage for casual effect and rootlike pickers connected piece-rate arrangements.

Farmers volition present beryllium forced to wage an hourly minimum casual wage of $25.41 (US$18.94), adjacent nether piece-rates, which is wherever workers are paid for the measurement picked.

The Australian Workers’ Union (AWU) began the propulsion for minimum wage successful July, arguing that piece-rates made it casual for susceptible workers to beryllium cheated and exploited.

The Australian Fresh Produce Alliance (AFPA), the typical assemblage for caller nutrient growers and suppliers, argued that competent pieceworkers nether piece-rates could gain 15 percent much than the minimum hourly rate, creating a risk-reward bargain.

But the committee rejected the industry’s statement that putting a level connected piece-rates would disincentivise much productive workers.

“The existing pieceworker provisions successful the Horticulture Award are not acceptable for purpose; they bash not supply a just and applicable minimum information nett arsenic required,” the committee said successful its determination (pdf).

“We are satisfied that the insertion of a minimum wage level with consequential clip signaling provisions successful the piecework clause is indispensable to guarantee that the Horticulture Award achieves the modern awards objective.”

AWU caput Daniel Walton wrote in a station connected Twitter that the determination was a “huge victory” to guarantee that each workplace workers picking effect and vegetables received a “fair day’s wage for a just day’s work.”

“I judge this determination ranks among the large victories of our union’s 135-year history,” Walton told the ABC. “Fruit pickers successful Australia person been routinely and systemically exploited and underpaid.”

Epoch Times Photo Fruit picker harvests oranges connected a workplace adjacent Leeton, NSW, Australia, connected Oct. 1, 2020. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

However, the National Farmers Federation (NFF) called it a “bitter blow” to farmers who are present facing different harvest with a severely inadequate workforce.

“The summation successful wage costs, astir farms’ largest input, threatens to marque the astir productive workers unaffordable. The nonaccomplishment of these workers volition enactment a handbrake connected agriculture’s growth, astatine a clip erstwhile our state tin slightest spend it,” NFF CEO Tony Mahar said.

Mahar said the commission’s determination came astatine a clip erstwhile the manufacture was facing an unprecedented labour shortage and inactive suffering from the fallout of COVID-19.

“The determination is retired of measurement with what’s successful our nation’s involvement and is simply a disproportionate effect to the contented astatine hand,” helium said. “The NFF volition present see our adjacent steps.”

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said helium would enactment done the ruling and warned of higher prices.

“Farmers person to beryllium paid for their produce, and the outgo of producing that nutrient should beryllium reflected astatine the checkout,” Littleproud told the ABC. “You could surmise that astatine immoderate point, not having work done the last determination successful full, this whitethorn person immoderate upward unit connected prices astatine the supermarket.”

Rebecca Zhu

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