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Minimum wage is being introduced for Fruit pickers
Farmers say supermarkets must pay sustainable prices for fresh fruit and
vegetables and ensure it is produced by reputable growers as major changes are
made to the way Australia’s fruit pickers are paid.
From April 28, changes to the Horticulture Award mean that farm workers
typically paid according to how much produce they pick or pack must be
guaranteed a minimum hourly rate.
Workers can still be paid the piece rate, according to their productivity.
The average competent worker must be allowed to earn 15 per cent above the
minimum, almost $30 per hour.
The changes were announced by the Fair Work Commission following a
successful appeal led by the Australian Workers’ Union (AWU).
When the Fair Work Commission decided the piece rate system was not working,
Australia’s Agriculture Minister David Littleproud suggested any changes could
drive up the price of fresh fruit and vegetables.
The Victorian Farmers Federation president Emma Germano said the changes to
the Horticulture Award “Labor costs are the highest part of the production cost
and can usually be up to 60 per cent of the gross farm receipts on farm,” Ms
“I don’t think there’s any question that this is going to have an impact on prices.”
The piece rate is commonly paid for workers in crops that cannot be
mechanically harvested, including citrus, cherries, apples, and berries.
The Australian Fresh Produce Alliance’s CEO Michael Rogers said there must be
better policing of the way workers were paid.
“We have a very strong position that anyone who does not pay people properly
and treat workers fairly needs to leave the industry,” Mr Rogers said.
Mr Rogers said changes to the Horticulture Award would cause some businesses
Adelaide, South Australia