Growers and farm workers asked to help protect piece rates

The NFF is calling on growers and workers in the
horticulture sector to take part in a survey which aims to confirm the
importance of piece rates as a payment model.

Fruit and vegetable growers require workers for short
intensive periods of picking and packing who are productive and capable of
getting the produce off in time to avoid spoiling and wastage.

Guy Gaeta, an orchardist near Orange and the Chair of the
NSW Farmers Association Horticulture Committee is one of those growers.

“Piece-rates, paying workers by the amount of work completed
rather than on an hourly basis, attracts dedicated and ambitious workers and
incentivises productivity.

“People working pursuant to piece rates are basically their
own bosses and they can make good money. It works out for everybody,” Mr Gaeta
said.

Currently, piece rates are required to be set at a rate that
enables the average, competent worker to earn at least 115% of what the minimum
hourly wage would offer within the same period.

“Rather than offering a set, hourly rate of pay, piece-rates
allow workers to earn at a rate that directly corresponds to how much they pick
or pack in a given workday.” NFF CEO Tony Mahar said.

“For example, whereas a worker on an hourly wage might earn
$20 per hour over 7 hours and pick 5-6 bins of apples, a worker on piece rates
might earn $45 per bin of apples – their potential earnings almost doubling
over the same period.”

The AWU has recently launched an application in the Fair
Work Commission to effectively abolish piece rates, raising concerns among some
growers that they will be forced to massively reduce the number of workers they
employ during peak seasons or else consider selling up entirely.

“The risk of putting a minimum floor on piece rates is that
growers will see productivity and the pool of suitable workers drop and their
wage bill skyrocket,” Mr Mahar said.

“Employment is already the number-one expense for many
growers, at as much as 66% of their operating costs, and any significant increase
to that could see businesses fail. More than this, the doing away of piece
rates could mean many people currently making very good money are out of a job,
and higher prices at the checkout.”

“The NFF is committed to ensuring piece-rates remain a
viable tool to incentivise productivity.

“In order to ensure that both growers and their workers can
mutually benefit, we are asking growers and workers on the industry to complete
this survey and provide us with the information we need to make the case for
piece rates.”

The NFF is calling on growers and workers in the
horticulture sector to take part in a survey which aims to confirm the
importance of piece rates as a payment model.

Fruit and vegetable growers require workers for short
intensive periods of picking and packing who are productive and capable of
getting the produce off in time to avoid spoiling and wastage.

Guy Gaeta, an orchardist near Orange and the Chair of the
NSW Farmers Association Horticulture Committee is one of those growers.

“Piece-rates, paying workers by the amount of work completed
rather than on an hourly basis, attracts dedicated and ambitious workers and
incentivises productivity.

“People working pursuant to piece rates are basically their
own bosses and they can make good money. It works out for everybody,” Mr Gaeta
said.

Currently, piece rates are required to be set at a rate that
enables the average, competent worker to earn at least 115% of what the minimum
hourly wage would offer within the same period.

“Rather than offering a set, hourly rate of pay, piece-rates
allow workers to earn at a rate that directly corresponds to how much they pick
or pack in a given workday.” NFF CEO Tony Mahar said.

“For example, whereas a worker on an hourly wage might earn
$20 per hour over 7 hours and pick 5-6 bins of apples, a worker on piece rates
might earn $45 per bin of apples – their potential earnings almost doubling
over the same period.”

The AWU has recently launched an application in the Fair
Work Commission to effectively abolish piece rates, raising concerns among some
growers that they will be forced to massively reduce the number of workers they
employ during peak seasons or else consider selling up entirely.

“The risk of putting a minimum floor on piece rates is that
growers will see productivity and the pool of suitable workers drop and their
wage bill skyrocket,” Mr Mahar said.

“Employment is already the number-one expense for many
growers, at as much as 66% of their operating costs, and any significant increase
to that could see businesses fail. More than this, the doing away of piece
rates could mean many people currently making very good money are out of a job,
and higher prices at the checkout.”

“The NFF is committed to ensuring piece-rates remain a
viable tool to incentivise productivity.

“In order to ensure that both growers and their workers can
mutually benefit, we are asking growers and workers on the industry to complete
this survey and provide us with the information we need to make the case for
piece rates.”

If you are a worker or grower in the horticulture sector who
has paid or been paid by piece-rate, we want to hear from you. Please consider
completing the survey here https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/58BT8Y5and sharing it with your networks and industry contacts.

If you are a worker or grower in the horticulture sector who has paid or been paid by piece-rate, we want to hear from you. Please consider completing the survey here https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/58BT8Y5 and sharing it with your networks and industry contacts.

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