Article by: Hari Yellina (Orchard Tech)
Unfortunately, fruit growers in Tasmania will appeal to the Fair Work Commission decision to award a minimum wage to pickers, whatever they end up picking. Across the country, orchards and other farm workers are paid a piece rate, which means they are paid according to the amount of produce they harvest. So, the more fruit or vegetables harvested, the more a worker is paid. Last week’s ruling will see pickers paid a guaranteed minimum casual rate of $25.41 per hour, a move hailed by unions as one of the most significant industrial decisions of modern times.
Huon Valley fruit grower Andrew Griggs said many farmers were exasperated with the decision. Many farmers are still trying to get their heads around the ruling, and many remain uncertain about the timing of implementation. Nevertheless, growers have called on the state government to support them with their appeal, but so far have been met with a disappointing response. Whatever happens with the appeal, Fruit Growers Tasmania has hoped any change to the system happens outside the harvesting period.
Fruit Growers Tasmania will lodge its appeal before the November 26 cut-off. The growers decided not to engage in the process. They are of the opinion that it’s a fair and independent objective assessment that will be undertaken by The Fair Work Commission. Tasmanian fruit pickers are currently paid by piece rate. A Fair Work Commission decision last week will award workers a minimum hourly rate of $25.41. The state’s leading industry group has appealed the ruling.