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Protecting orchard businesses

Industry Advocacy

The apple and pear industry are currently facing very distinct but important issues.

Importation of US Apples

The Australian government is currently considering whether to allow the importation of US apples and the potential biosecurity risks associated with such a decision. The Australian Government’s own report has identified 24 exotic pests and diseases that could be introduced into Australia, including fire blight, European canker, and leaf curling midge.

APAL has analysed the report and considers it significantly underestimates the level of risk for many pests and diseases. In addition to the biosecurity risks, the economic risks to the entire industry are significant. The US is the second largest apple producer in the world and has a massive export program.

We continue to lobby the department and government to ensure the industry is adequately protected. This issue goes to the core issues of food security and the need to effectively manage the risk to Australia’s growers.

 

 

Under the Horticulture Award, an agreed piecework rate must allow the ‘average competent employee’ to earn at least 15pc more per hour than the relevant minimum hourly rate in the award for the employee’s employment type and classification. Photo: Darren James Photography.

Protection of the piecework rate

The Australian Workers Union (AWU) is trying to alter the Horticulture Award to ensure the piecework rate pays, at a minimum, the award rate.

As background, the piecework rate provides an incentive to make more than the minimum hourly rate depending on productivity. It provides significant flexibility to the horticulture industry and caters for the industry’s unique short-term labour requirements.

APAL is working closely with the Australian horticulture industry to protect this provision. The industry has engaged a legal team and we are currently collecting statements from growers and workers to present to the Fair Work Commission. The industry will be presenting its evidence at the end of May, with the case being considered in mid-July.

Further reading

Pay & piecework rates – Fair Work Ombudsman

Looking after workers (APAL toolkit)

Machines a ‘game-changer’ for Tasmanian orchards needing fruit pickers

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