AWU to Establish Wage Calculator for Wool Industry

AWU National Secretary Daniel Walton

A UNION initiative to establish wage calculators to investigate potential underpayments of agricultural workers has met with strong opposition from farmers’ organizations.

The Australian Workers Union on Tuesday launched an initiative to investigate farms the union suspects of underpaying their workers, starting with employers who have publicly claimed horticulture price changes have destroyed their business model.

The union said it would also introduce a wage calculator for workers operating under the pastoral price, which covers employees in the agricultural, sheep and wool sectors.

The union said the new horticulture price requiring a base rate of pay to sit under the piecework pay system has prompted several farm owners to publicly claim that their business models have been destroyed. The AWU said if an employer’s business model is destroyed by having to meet Australian minimum wage requirements, those employers are likely to routinely underpay workers by a significant margin.

The AWU said its organizers will now seek to contact workers employed by these farms to check if any money is owed to them. The union will also launch a new online tool for migrant workers – available in English and Chinese at launch – which will allow them to easily check whether they are underpaid.

“If you are complaining that your business model cannot survive paying the Australian minimum wage, then it is fair to assume that you may have ripped off your workers,” said AWU National Secretary Daniel Walton.

“The National Farmers Federation, when opposing the safety net we have now, kept telling everyone that no pieceworker was paid below the minimum anyway. minimum wage.

“If so, where are all these complaints coming from that we have seen in the media? asked Mr. Walton.

“The only way to fix this ugly scourge of underpayment and abuse is to start tackling it head on.

“There are a lot of good farmers out there who respect Australian wages and Australian conditions,” he said.

“They should not be put at a competitive disadvantage to the shonks and muggers who have been allowed to grow endemic under the current federal government.”

Mr Walton said the wool and shearing industry is currently enjoying a period of higher pay rates and positive action from shearers and their employers on their working conditions.

“This is the result of advocacy by AWU members and the union’s focused work over the past few years,” he said.

But Mr Walton confirmed that the AWU intended to develop a compensation calculator for the wool industry.

SCAA supports AWU role, but disputes need salary calculator

Shearing Contractors Association of Australia National Secretary Jason Letchford said the SCAA supports the work of the AWU to ensure fair pay and conditions for all workers, including overseas workers on visas.

“For more than 100 years, the AWU has played an important role in this process.

“Having said that, any employer who is considering minimum standards and minimum conditions is out of the game right now,” he said.

“The shearing industry is now competing globally for workers and any employers who do not pay very competitive rates of pay and work with farmers to improve conditions, are being left behind.

“Therefore, the relevance or necessity of a ‘salary calculator’ will be debatable for a few years – until the supply of skilled mowing labor exceeds the demand and that won’t happen anytime soon. so early.”

The salary calculator is an attempt to harvest information – NFF

The National Farmers Federation said the AWU’s so-called “Coin Rate Calculator” is an old-fashioned online form for collecting personal information to be used for membership campaigns and membership lists. diffusion. The “calculator” doesn’t even bother to collect the basic information necessary to determine the accuracy of net pay, such as the worker’s classification, the amount he has chosen, the allowances owed to him, or even the piece rate, the mentioned NFF.

NFF chief executive Tony Mahar said the union was more interested in collecting email addresses and phone numbers.

“Agricultural labor was once a mainstay of AWU members.

“As you might expect, workers have long realized that the cost of AWU membership relative to the value provided, amounts to nothing less than a scam,” he said. .

“The ‘calculator’ started by the AWU does nothing to help meet the challenge and should be exposed for what it is: a poorly disguised membership campaign.

“The NFF supports trusted ways to help navigate the cumbersome system. The obvious way is to use the Fair Labor Ombudsman’s range of tools that farmers and farmworkers can apply to better understand their rights and obligations. Mr. Mahar said.

“The NFF encourages all agricultural workers to use these tools and report any instances of underpayment to the FWO.

“Any agricultural companies that underpay or exploit workers must be called out and held accountable,” he said.

“Unfortunately, workers who provide their email address and payslips to the AWU via the ‘calculator’ will undoubtedly result in nothing more than annoying spam targeting their hard-earned employees in exchange for a miserable membership.”

Threats to farmers are shameful – NSW Farmers

NSW Farmers Industrial Relations Committee chairman Chris Stillard said it was shameful that the Australian Workers Union was threatening farmers when ordinary Australians worried about the cost of groceries.

“The union suggests that anyone who raises concerns about the labor movement must be a crummy operator.

“It shows how disconnected they are; ordinary Australians are concerned about the cost of their supermarket trolley, but the union is going after the people who grow our food,” Mr Stillard said.

“Farmers want to keep producing food, and the tactics to undermine them are disappointing when so many families are struggling with the cost of living.”

Mr. Stillard said the AWU’s political posture in the midst of a federal election campaign would only make things worse, not better.

“With the current labor shortage, it makes no sense for farmers to underpay their workers,” Mr Stillard said.

“These workers could simply find better paid work elsewhere, and we are seeing strong competition among farmers to find good workers.

‘The unions need to realize that their approach would simply lead to the end of Australian farms and let us import all our food,’ he said.

Eleanor C. William