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Fairwork decision devastates horticulture community

"On the 15th of April 2019, Australia’s Fairwork Commission made changes to the Horticulture Award which will be devastating for the Horticultural Community. Among these changes is the addition of overtime rates for casual workers which will significantly raise costs and will mean the loss of many Australian grower’s businesses if nothing is done."

"Growers of fruit and vegetables are shaken by the decision to institute these changes, as they will struggle to implement Fairwork’s ruling in a way that doesn’t financially cripple their business and still allows enough hours for casual workers to make seasonal work appealing. Australian growers are committed to paying their casual staff a fair wage for their work, but with businesses being dragged under by these new costs the question arises of whether this is truly fair. Because growers do not set the price of fruit and vegetables themselves, they can see that these increased costs will be insurmountable and will cause their viable horticultural businesses to go under."

"It is a harsh truth but these changes to the Horticulture Award will cause regions to be ruined. When farms close as a result of no longer having a viable future, the effects will flow-on to the entire supply chain – small and large businesses alike will suffer and likely fold as a consequence. With less produce being grown, the businesses that export Australian produce will also suffer as they will become uncompetitive in the global market, and everyday Australian consumers will be hurt by the increased cost of fresh produce and a lack of Australian grown fruit and veg on our own shelves."

"Most growers have so much to contend with in their day-to-day that they can find it hard to pull themselves away to fight for what is important to them, but that is not the case this time. With their livelihoods and their hope of passing on their knowledge to the next generation being threatened, they have come together to voice their opposition of these changes to the Horticulture Award and request assistance."

"We urge the Australian government to address the problems that the new requirements have caused, and partner with growers to work through these issues and recover a sustainable future for the Australian produce industry. The harm that the changes to the Horticulture Award will cause is far reaching and needs to be stopped, and the government needs to provide growers with support so that our industry can continue. With thousands of businesses and tens of thousands of jobs currently at risk because of this decision, it seems a simple thing to ask."

For more information:
Shane Schnitzler
Fresh State President
Tel: +61 498 110 014

Kate Cook
Fresh State
Tel: +61 3 9408 6627

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