In Australia, farmers are very upset about plans to change the piece rate pay for picking workers. They argue the costs of fruit and vegetables will skyrocket for consumers. However, supply chain experts say it is “unfair to place the blame” of increased prices on workers who want a liveable wage when supermarkets are gouging farmers and consumers alike.
The cost of food will be front and centre this week as the full bench of the Fair Work Commission meets to witness an application to force farms to pay the minimum casual pay of $25.41 an hour to pickers and packers.
At this time, workers can be remunerated based on the amount of fruit picked or vegetables harvested, with frequent reports of pickers earning as little as $2 per hour on piece rates. In the lead up to this week’s hearing farmers have been vocal opponents of any changes to the award rate – with some arguing a floor in the minimum pay rate would be burdensome and result in an increase in prices for customers.