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Great day for fruit pickers as new award conditions kick in, despite farming lobby’s best efforts

April 29, 2022

The Australian Workers’ Union is today warmly welcoming the new Horticulture Award which introduces an hourly minimum rate for fruit pickers, who will now enjoy the same baseline conditions as all other Australian workers.

In November 2021, the AWU secured an historic industrial win for fruit pickers by successfully arguing the Horticulture Award should be altered to ensure every worker is entitled to take home the minimum casual rate of pay, currently $25.41.


Despite aggressive opposition from the National Farmers Federation and the Agriculture Minister the AWU was able to persuade the Fair Work Commission that it was unfair to allow fruit pickers to be bamboozled and underpaid by the piece work system without a safety net.

“Fruit picking is tough, important work and at the very least those workers deserve to earn the Australian minimum wage. It’s truly amazing that the NFF and David Littleproud can look themselves in mirror after arguing the opposite,” said AWU National Secretary Daniel Walton.


“It’s unfortunate the NFF have decided they want to operate as a mouthpiece for bad farmers instead of representing the good farmers who have been undercut by dodgy exploitation and underpayment practices.

“Of course we’re going to see more scaremongering about consumers prices, despite the fact fruit prices have actually been relatively stable over the past two years despite Covid putting unprecedented pressure on the labour force.

“But even if we accept the dubious point that prices will go up slightly on average, what’s the argument? That we should encourage an underclass of workers on third world wages in Australia so our supermarket berries cost one per cent less?

“For too long the farmers’ lobby has seen fruit pickers as somehow beneath the usual standards offered to Australian workers. But the hard work of pickers deserves the same minimum wage dignity afforded to everyone else.

“Now at the end of each day every 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.

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

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