Fruit Pickers Are Now Guaranteed A Minimum Wage In Australia And That Could Cause Prices To Jump
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Australians have been warned that the current inflation could become worse after farms across the nation could potentially make fruit and vegetable surge in prices.
ABC News reports the likely rise in prices follows Australian farmers now paying a higher minimum wage to fruit pickers, with the Horticulture Award coming into effect today (April 28).
Under the new regulations, the new minimum wage guarantee requires all pieceworkers picking or packing produce and getting paid by how much they harvest to now be paid at least the ‘hourly rate’, according to The National Tribune.
Though Chief executive of Fruit Growers Tasmania Peter Cornish welcomed the new wage, he warned Australian shoppers that they would likely see a rise in costs for fruit and vegetables.
He told ABC News: "There will be higher cost pressures. Whether that transfers into [sale] prices or not is another matter, but there will be a pressure on that for sure.
"If they have to top up people that are below the minimum, that means higher costs and it may well transfer into higher fruit prices as well."
Workers will now receive $25.41 per hour; however, they can receive more depending on how much they harvest.
Amendments to the Horticulture Award follow a Commission by the Australian Workers Union (AWU) after years of farmers reportedly exploiting workers.
AWU national secretary Daniel Walton shared with ABC News that some workers were earning as little as $3 an hour, with horticulture employers using the old structure to ‘rip off’ their employees.
He said: "Underpayment was widespread. That's the evidence we put forward, and that's what the independent umpire found sufficient to rule to put in this pay floor.
"The old piece rate structure was never meant to be a mechanism to rip workers off, it was meant to ensure workers could earn more. But that wasn't always happening."
In February, Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said the changes would see new resources to help farmers meet these legal obligations to pay their employees fairly.
She said: “The Fair Work Ombudsman has published extensive new and updated resources on our website to help horticulture employers understand and comply with these award changes.
“We encourage businesses to use these free, practical resources, which include a piecework arrangements employer checklist and templates for piecework records, timesheets and reconciliation.”