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NFF secures reprieve for horticultural producers

24 December 2009

“HORTICULTURAL producers have secured a far better outcome from the award modernisation process after a decision of the Full Bench of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC) yesterday”, according to the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) Workplace Relations Committee Chairman, Mr Duncan Fraser.

“The AIRC yesterday agreed to an application filed by the NFF, in conjunction with the Australian Industry Group (AiG), to change the hours of work and piecework provisions of the modern Horticulture Award that is set to commence on 1 January 2010.

“The decision follows from the intervention of the Deputy Prime Minister, the Hon Julia Gillard MP, through a Ministerial Request to have the modern horticulture award reviewed following an outcry from the horticulture industry when the award was published in April.

“The NFF/AiG application sought key changes including:

  • Piecework arrangements to reflect true piece work rates rather than a minimum hourly rate combined with an incentive payment as contained in the modern horticulture award;
  • A change to the piecework loading from 15% to 12.5%, the rate that currently applies to the Federal Horticulture Industry (AWU) award; and
  • More flexible hours of work arrangements particularly for the harvest period.

“With the exception of the piecework loading, the AIRC accepted the NFF/AiG application without amendment.

“This decision enables horticultural producers to get on with the job of providing Australians their fruit and vegetables over the holiday season without the massive cost imposition that would have otherwise been introduced from 1 January 2010.

“The NFF commends the AIRC in varying the modern Horticulture Award to provide for a far more equitable outcome. This has resolved the critical concerns of the industry.

“We now turn our attention to ensuring that all horticultural producers are aware of the amendment to the modern award. We are looking forward to working closely next year with the Fair Work Ombudsman and other industry partners in providing specific education material to the horticulture industry about the modern award and other key provisions of the Fair Work Act.

“The NFF encourages producers to contact their industry associations for more information or contact the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94 or the Fair Work website.”

[ENDS]

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