09 November 2021
Fruit Growers Victoria Ltd (FGVL) has expressed dismay at the decision of the Fair Work Commission to impose minimum wage rates for fruit picking, regardless of how much fruit is picked.
FGVL Chairman Mitch McNab said that the change would result in a smaller workforce with less opportunities for young Australian jobseekers.
“As employers we absolutely support a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work. This decision will see less productive workers effectively excluded from participating in our industry. It disincentives a grower from employing an unskilled worker as they improve their skills and productivity to reach a better than award payment in a short time.”
“The complexities of piece rate arrangements and non-compliance are a reasonable concern, but this is a blunt instrument that will be counterproductive. It won’t allow growers to spend time training Australian workers and will increase Australia’s reliance on overseas worker schemes bringing in fast, experienced pickers.”
He highlighted that this approach doesn’t deal with two key drivers of poor labour practices in the industry. “Instead of eliminating fair piece rates for ethical employers, we’d prefer to see an award that is simpler to apply, better education about employment regulations, and properly resourced compliance systems to weed out those intentionally ripping off workers.”
Mr McNab concluded with a request to postpone the implementation of any changes to beyond the current season. “This change can’t happen immediately. Covid has already left growers drastically short of pickers and many have negotiated supply contracts based on piece rate arrangements. Implementing a minimum wage immediately will be a financial disaster for many growers.”
FGV office on 03 5825 3700