MEDIA RELEASE: BIG STEP FORWARD FOR FARM WORKERS AS GUARANTEED MINIMUM WAGES ARE INTRODUCED INTO HORTICULTURE AWARD

4 November 2021

Read the Chinese media release here

Yesterday the Fair Work Commission handed down a decision to guarantee all workers will take home at least the minimum wage for hours worked.
1 The Commission found that there was “widespread non-compliance” with the piece-rate provisions of the Horticulture Award, leading to “significant underpayment of piece-workers”.

For decades, unscrupulous employers and labour hire providers have set artificially low piece-rates to drive down wages. A joint report from the Migrant Workers Centre and Unions NSW showed that 78% of surveyed farm-workers were being paid less than the minimum wage. In some cases they earned as little as $9 a day.2

The Federal Government should support this decision and ensure that it takes the necessary steps in reforming our migration system to remove the remaining barriers migrant workers face in reporting industrial wrong-doing on Australian farms.

Congratulations to the farm workers who campaigned together for these reforms through the Australian Workers Union and the United Workers Union.

Quotes Attributable to Matt Kunkel, CEO Migrant Workers Centre

“For too long, the largely migrant workforce on farms have toiled for insufferably low wages under an unfair piece rates system. These changes are an important step to improving the lives of those working on Australian farms.

“Wages on Australian farms remain low and there is evidence of widespread non-compliance with other industrial provisions. This decision is a great win for farm-workers, the Federal Government must now act on the countless reports of rights breaches in the sector.

“Migrant farm-workers face precarity at the intersection of both industrial and migration law. The Federal Government should introduce whistle-blower protections which would allow migrant farm-workers to report industrial wrong-doing without the threat of deportation.


1 Summary of FWC Decision

2  “$9 a Day” Report into wage theft and human rights abuses on farms.


For further information, please contact Migrant Workers Centre Digital and Communications Organiser Ella Shi, 0439 449 210 or [email protected]