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Wage increase hits drought-affected farmers hardest

4 June 2014

While today’s announcement by the Fair Work Commission outlined a modest increase to minimum wages, the National Farmers’ Federation is concerned that every rise in labour costs makes it harder for farmers already struggling to keep farm-business costs down and maintain competitiveness.

This afternoon, the Fair Work Commission announced an increase to minimum wages of 3 per cent. NFF President, Brent Finlay, said all modern awards will be affected by the announcement, effective from 1 July 2014.

“In our submission, the NFF asked the Commission to take into account the specific concerns affecting agriculture, including the current severe drought, when considering a national wage rise,” said Mr Finlay.

“Many farmers and businesses in rural Australia have already had to make some tough decisions on whether or not they retain labour through this drought,” he said.

In making the announcement, the Commission agreed that the approach suggested by the NFF was appropriate and that they had considered circumstances arising from the drought in forming views.

“The Commission also took into account the recent increase in the superannuation guarantee—the employer contribution component of worker’s superannuation entitlements—to 9.5 per cent,” said Mr Finlay.

“While the increase in wages announced today is above the consumer price index and the wage price index, the costs to farmers will be partially relieved by the Budget decision to defer further increases in the superannuation guarantee until 2018,” he said.

The NFF will continue to explore options for ensuring that Australian agricultural employers have the best possible opportunities for attracting and retaining an appropriately-skilled workforce.

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