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Intervention in horticulture award case

The National Farmers’ Federation was successful in its application to intervene in the matter Fair Work Ombudsman v Tao Hu & Ors (Marland Mushrooms) last week.

Background

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) is joining the Federal Court proceedings, Fair Work Ombudsman v Tao Hu & Ors (Marland Mushrooms) to ensure that the piecework provisions in the Horticulture Award 2010 are applied correctly.

Piece rates are a payment method that is based on how much a worker harvests, instead of the length of time that they are working. The rate of pay is determined before work starts, based on how much an average competent worker should be able to pick.

The NFF is opposing the Fair Work Ombudsman’s application of piecework provisions which would calculate the rate of pay after the workers have finished picking. This takes away much of the incentive to work, an important purpose of the piecework provisions.

The basis for the NFF’s intervention is to ensure proper construction is given to the piecework provisions in the Horticulture Award 2010.

And now...

NFF Chief Executive Tony Mahar said piecework rates were a fair mechanism for rewarding hard work and any move to do away with them would have wide implications.

“Marland Mushrooms has the potential to set a precedent for how the award is applied across the horticulture sector.”

Mr Mahar said under the award, piecework rates were fixed by agreement, between the employer and the employee prospectively, at a rate that enables the average, competent worker to earn at least 15 per cent more than the minimum hourly rate.

“The Fair Work Ombudsman’s approach to the award means the worker would receive at least 15% more than the award rate, regardless of how fast or hard they worked,” Mr Mahar said.

The NFF has successfully sought support from the Australian Farmers’ Fighting Fund for the intervention. 

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