News

Strawberry farms accused of exploiting foreign workers

Strawberry farms have become the target of the Fair Work Ombudsman.
Strawberry farms have become the target of the Fair Work Ombudsman. Jorge Branco

THE Fair Work Ombudsman is monitoring strawberry farms around Caboolture after receiving complaints about underpayments to foreign workers.

Fair Work Inspectors were in the district last week and visited nine farms to check that employers were meeting their obligations under workplace law.

Fair Work Ombudsman, Natalie James, said the visits identified a number of issues.

"Some employers paying workers piece-rates had no written agreement with employees, as required by law," Ms James said.

"This is a really important issue. In the absence of a piece-work agreement, workers are required to be paid hourly rates of pay according to the Modern Award, which for an adult casual is $20.40 per hour.

"We also found a number of employers not maintaining appropriate records and not providing workers with pay slips - or pay slips not including all the required information.

"Providing pay slips is a legal requirement on employers. It's designed to allow employees to satisfy themselves that they've received all their entitlements."

Ms James said Inspectors discussed issues with individual employers and provided them with information and tools and resources to ensure they can meet their obligations. Our Inspectors also provided information to employees.

"Fair Work Inspectors will be returning to the district next month and where compliance is not satisfactory, further action may be taken," Ms James said.

"This can range from issuing one-the-spot fines for breaches of workplace law, right up to legal action in the federal courts, where significant penalties of up to $51,000 per breach apply.

"The Fair Work Ombudsman is particularly concerned for vulnerable workers, including young and/or foreign workers, who may not be fully aware of their entitlements.

"The district relies heavily on the labour provided by foreign workers at this time of year, particularly working holiday makers, many of whom are undertaking seasonal harvest work to secure a second working holiday maker visa.

"Many workers were reluctant to speak to us during our visits.

"However, we have since received further information from some workers about potential underpayments and also copies of a piece-work agreement from one employer which requires workers to provide one week's notice of termination or have one week's wages withheld - neither of these requirements is lawful."

"The Fair Work Ombudsman's role is to help both employers and employees. Our visits have helped employers understand their obligations and meet them. I would hope to see a significant improvement in compliance with workplace laws when Inspectors return over the coming weeks."

Employers and employees can contact the Fair Work Ombudsman on 13 13 94 or, if a translator is required, on 13 14 50 or visit fairwork.gov.au/horticulture where there is information specifically on seasonal harvest work.

Topics:  caboolture editors picks foreign workers fruit pickers


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Our love affair with the internet is growing

Gympie West's Micah, Kathy, Rob and Mitchell Pitt, with their dog Winston, enjoying their devices through the National Broadband Network.

We do it in bed, at work, in the kitchen ... and on the loo.

Waiting for NBN: what you need to do next

NBN's "check your address” feature shows the Rockhampton Morning Bulletin office should be able to connect to the National Broadband Network from January 2017.

Find out where your region is at with the NBN rollout.

$150,000 in grants to unearth digital talent in regions

Australian Information Industry Association chief Rob Fitzpatrick talking about a $150,000 grants program to unearth innovation from businesses, educators and communities using the National Broadband Network.

Unearthing NBN success stories may result in innovation being shared

Local Partners

Teen boy dies after falling from motorbike

A 16-YEAR-OLD boy has died after falling from a motorbike at a suburban sports ground.

Noll meltdown won't affect Gympie Oz Day concert

Shannon Noll

Photo Contributed

Shannon Noll is still expected to perform in Gympie next Thursday

Start the new year with a bang at Woodford

CLOSING CEREMONY: The Fire Event is Woodford Folk Festival's biggest ceremony.

Farewell 2016 with fire at Woodford Folk Festival

Ring in new year at Woodford Folk Festival

FIRST DAWN: 6000 welcomed the first sunrise of 2016 with a ceremony led by Tibetan monks.

Get your grove on and let the sun set on 2016 and rise anew in 2017

Fresh faces: NCIS gets a shake up with new cast members

The new cast of NCIS, from left, Rocky Carroll, Pauley Perrette, Sean Murray, David McCallum, Brian Dietzen, Wilmer Valderrama, Emily Wickersham, Mark Harmon, Duane Henry and Jennifer Esposito.

THREE new characters join naval drama for season 14.

First the Onesie, now an Xbox One S inflatable controller

Fancy an inflatable Xbox One S controller?

Inflatable controller 'perfect sidekick' for Australia Day party

Sarah Harris: Here’s what Amber Sherlock should’ve done

Studio 10 and Shark Tank presenter Sarah Harris.

STUDIO 10 host says Sherlock could’ve avoided the subsequent uproar.

Amber Heard 'smitten' with Elon Musk

Amber Heard

ACTRESS is reportedly excited about going public with new boyfriend

New doco argues ‘OJ Simpson is innocent, and I can prove it’

O.J. Simpson

NEW documentary series claims to have found “missing evidence".

REVIEW: Undressed is more than titilating entertainment

Nathan and Tahlia meet for the first time on the TV series Undressed.

'DIVERSE' dating show goes more than skin deep.

Historical home leaves family's hands after 75 years

SALE CONFIRMED: The Gympie Regional   Realty team which sold the Ramsey property are (back) Mel Gastigar, Dorothy Palmer and Margaret Cochrane, with (front) home seller Terri-Jayne Ramsey.

Ramsey family played a huge role in Gympie's growth.

What a year 2016 proved to be

Entrance Island, Birtinya

Get the inside info from the agents themselves

REVEALED: What Coast wants in an international airport

Sunshine Coast business people share their views on what's needed

Time for a cool change

43 Eckersley Ave, Buderim.

Family home goes to the auction floor

Designer home set in lush tropical gardens

This home has it all and more

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!