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New minimum rates kick-in

New normal: The Horticulture Award changes must be followed for all full pay periods starting on or after April 28. Photo by Megan Fisher

Big changes to the Horticulture Award came into effect on April 28.

The changes include: a minimum wage for pieceworkers (casual adult level 1 employee is $25.41/hour); new piecework definitions, which mean ‘competent’ workers must earn at least 15 per cent more per hour than the minimum rate; and new record-keeping obligations.

The award changes must be followed for all full pay periods starting on or after April 28.

The Australian Workers’ Union celebrated April 28 as a great day for fruit pickers.

“Now, at the end of each day, every (casual) picker should be assured that their work netted at least $25.41 an hour. If not, their employer is stealing from them and breaking the law,” AWU national secretary Daniel Walton said.

“This ruling is a huge advance for this industry and for all the farmers who are already doing the right thing.”

The changes were brought about by a Fair Work Commission decision in February, after the AWU argued the Horticulture Award should be altered to ensure every worker is entitled to a minimum casual rate of pay, currently $25.41.

Full details of the changes can be accessed on the Fair Work Ombudsman’s horticulture showcase: https://horticulture.fairwork.gov.au/