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Also: Court rules higher backpacker tax is discriminatory

Australia: Fruit pickers guaranteed minimum wage

As the Fair Work Commission found the industry's piecework arrangements not fit for purpose, farms will be required to pay fruit pickers a minimum wage. The Australian Workers' Union called the decision to implement a minimum casual pay floor, currently at $25.41 an hour, a ‘victory for underpaid and exploited farm workers’.

The commission rejected industry arguments that putting a floor on the piecework model where pay depends on the amount of produce harvested would disincentivize more productive workers. "The existing pieceworker provisions in the Horticulture Award are not fit for purpose; they do not provide a fair and relevant minimum safety net as required," the commission said in its decision. It amended the award to set a minimum floor for piecework pay arrangements and require employers to keep records of pickers' hours to ensure monitoring and enforcement.

Northerndailyleader.com.au reports that the commission found widespread non-compliance with the award and a majority temporary migrant workforce vulnerable to exploitation. Acknowledging some pieceworkers earned more than the average "target rate", the commission found the overall situation to be one of significant underpayment compared with the minimum award rate.

Australian court rules higher backpacker tax as discriminatory
Yesterday, Australia's High Court found that the country's practice of taxing young working tourists at a higher rate than local Australians for the same work was discriminatory.

The case brought by British backpacker Catherine Addy who worked as a waitress in Sydney in 2017, sought to show that she was treated unfairly because of her nationality when she had to pay a higher tax rate compared to Australian residents.

Addy argued that having earned A$26,576 between January and May 2017 she should have had access to the same tax-free threshold as Australian residents, rather than having been taxed at a 15% flat rate, the Australian Broadcasting Corp (ABC) reported. The High Court found in Addy's favour.

Source: reuters.com


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