Piecework rates under scrutiny

At the time of going to print, the Fair Work Commission’s hearing of the Australian Workers Union application to vary the Horticulture Award regarding piecework rates had almost wrapped up. 

The NFF and the NFF Horticulture Council (of which the Australian Banana Growers’ Council is part) are jointly contesting the application which seeks to: (1) place a ‘floor’ on piece rate arrangements to see that a pieceworker is guaranteed at least minimum hourly earnings; and (2) require employers to maintain a record of all piece workers’ hours. 

Over four days from 13-20 July, via video conference, the FWC heard evidence from both sides. Witnesses were cross examined about how and why they use piece work rates and the impact a floor price would have on their businesses and incomes. 

Written closing submissions (in chief) were under way in the last week of July with a half-day hearing scheduled for July 30. The FWC will then reserve its decision. It remains unclear as to when the commission will hand down a decision.