Fruit pick wages theft: study
A study into Australia’s workplace conditions for migrant workers has alleged serious wage theft in the agricultural sector, with claims farming and fruit and vegetable picking jobs have paid as little as $5 an hour.
The Wage Theft in Australia survey, spearheaded by University of New South Wales, reported about 15 per cent of temporary migrants working in fruit and vegetable picking and farm work roles earned $5 an hour or less.
The report, formulated on responses from 4322 migrant workers across 107 nationalities working in Australia, also revealed up to 31 per cent of pickers and farmhands earned $10 an hour.
WA Minister for Commerce and Industrial Relations Bill Johnston said while it was difficult to “ascertain if the findings are accurate”, it echoed the State Government’s concerns about low migrant wages.
“The McGowan Government is concerned about some employers in the horticultural industry underpaying and exploiting migrant workers. This gives such businesses an unfair advantage over their competitors who are doing the right thing,” he said.
Of the temporary migrants surveyed, 55 per cent identified as international students and 33 per cent were backpackers.
Growcom chief advocate Rachel Mackenzie said the horticulture representative group condemned the findings.
However, she said the survey results were not a true reflection of the industry.
“Wage theft in horticulture is real and it is not acceptable . . . even one case of wage theft is too many.”