Kiwifruit picker pay troubles as Seeka and union prepare for 2023 harvest

Seeka, Australasia’s largest kiwifruit producer, has moved to assuage fears its minimum wage of $24 per hour will drop ahead of the 2023 main season. First Union New Zealand spoke out against Seeka after a turbulent 2022 season, beset by labor issues and allegations of pay irregularities. Union officials alleged numerous members ended the season out of pocket despite a collective agreement with Seeka that workers would receive no less than $24 an hour.

But Seeka says many pickers earned much more and the company deserved some slack when rolling out the new agreement to several thousand workers employed at peak periods.

Anita Rosentreter, strategic project coordinator at First Union, said some workers on pay-per-piece terms had earned less than the stated hourly rate. Despite the agreed fee of $22.75 plus an hourly labor shortage allowance of $1.25, the union claimed the employees in question included orchard workers as well as packhouse staff.

Seeka pays more than 4000 people a week in the peak of the season, boss Michael Franks said, so it just took a while to make sure the new pay rate was in place across the company.

Source: stuff.co.nz


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