Sunday, December 20, 2015

Regarding seasonal workers

from w
There's been a story running about Fijian seasonal workers in the Robinvale area because six have moved on - perhaps in Melbourne or back to Fiji. They were unhappy with their conditions and pay. Anyway here is one explanation of how workers get paid. A lot of money is deducted from the gross pay so they end up with very little. If it's about piece work then it's about productivity of course.  There are many Islanders up in the Robinvale and Mildura area and I haven't heard complaints out loud before but I can understand the disappointment of some of the agricultural workers.
Fiji Times:

Workers query pay

Vuniwaqa Bola-Bari And Atasa Moceituba
Monday, December 21, 2015
SOME workers who are part of the Seasonal Workers Program in Australia are earning $A191.93 ($F296.64) weekly.
The workers, who are doing leaf plucking at a vineyard, say they are not happy with their take home pay.
Pay slips provided to this newspaper showed they had $210 deducted for food and accommodation, $33 for health insurance, personal support workers (PSW) deduction payments of $50 as well as superannuation.
One worker had a gross pay of $A569.93 ($F880.86) after all deductions, the worker received $A191.93 ($F296.64) as net pay.
Another worker received $A467.10 ($F721.93) as gross and got only $A154.10 ($F238.17) as net pay. One had $A439.20 ($F678.81) as gross pay and received only $A130.20 ($F201.22) as net pay similar to other workers who had given in their pay slips. Responding to the claims, the Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations, Semi Koroilavesau, said the seasonal workers pay was based on their productivity.
"If they are complaining and have no intention to work then the question that arises is what was their intention in going?"
A spokesperson from the Australian High Commission said seasonal workers had the same rights at work as other workers in Australia.
"Workers are covered by the minimum entitlements under the National Employment Standards.
"They may also get entitlements from an award or registered agreement and the Australian Government is committed to ensuring the safety and fair payment of all seasonal workers," the spokesperson said.
"Under the SWP, approved employers are able to take reasonable deductions from a seasonal worker's pay to cover expenses relating to such things including accommodation, health insurance, transport, flights, food (if necessary) etc.
"The amount a seasonal worker receives as their net pay can depend on many factors, including the rate of pay they receive, a worker's productivity and the level of deductions seasonal workers agree to before their employment in Australia.
"Under a piece rate agreement as per the Horticultural Award 2010, which enables workers to earn per unit of produce they harvest, the rate set out in the award enables an average competent and productive worker to earn at least 15 per cent more than the equivalent hourly rate.
"However, if workers are less productive, it can result in workers earning below the expected amount per week (compared with hourly work)."
Mr Koroilavesau confirmed in a phone interview yesterday that workers were paid based on their performance.
"They are not paying anything more and they are supposed to be surviving."
Mr Koroilavesau said workers had a three-day pre-departure orientation in which they were explained of what their contracts contained before they signed it.
He said the superannuation deduction which went to the Australian Government could be claimed back after they were done with their contract in March 2016.

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