Fair Work Commission – Modern Awards Update
Last week the NFF filed its claim to reduce the 3 hour minimum engagement in the dairy industry to 2 hours, to better align industry practices with the Pastoral Award. The claim was accompanied by a number of witness statements showing how the 3 hour limitation restricts flexibility and limits employment options, particularly for students and those with caring responsibilities. A copy of the NFF submission and witness statements can be found here.
At the same time, the ACTU has made a claim to increase the minimum engagement in all awards to 4 hours. The two claims will be dealt with together, along with a series of other claims (casuals electing to convert to permanent employment, overtime for casuals under the Horticulture Award and new restrictions on part-time and casual employment sought by the National Union of Workers). The Australian Workers Union and the National Union of Workers have both put in submissions calling for the Commission to clarify the right of overtime for casuals as they say the current Horticulture Award is not clear about whether overtime for casuals is applicable. The NFF will defend the claim on the basis that the current approach where casuals are not entitled to overtime is deliberate, fair, relevant and appropriate to the horticulture industry. Granting the claim will have a major impact on the horticulture industry and NFF and Voice of Horticulture are working together to engage a Barrister to represent the industry and defend the claims. We will be looking to members to provide evidence to support our defence of the claim over coming months. Any members who are interested in supporting the NFF case are encouraged to spent some time putting pen to paper to answer one or more of the following questions and providing the responses back to Lis at the VFF:
1. Describe the industry you work in
2. Describe your business in general terms – what do you grow, how long have you been doing it, how many staff (full time, part-time, casual), staffing peaks and lows over the year and reasons why, who you sell your produce to ie our business supplies apples to a major Australian supermarket chain.
3. Describe a typical working week in the low season in as much detail as you can – remember, Fair Work Commissioners mostly don’t understand the horticulture industry and we need to paint them a picture.
4. Describe a typical working week in the high season (as above).
5. Explain the commercial and seasonal pressures on your business and how these vary over the year eg. we have fixed price contracts and can’t increase the price of our produce; cashflow is tight; if we don’t get the crop off in the harvest X happens; we are competing with X; the weather can have a major impact etc.
6. Describe how you manage labour needs over the year. How do you find staff and how hard is it in your area; what sort of people tend to apply for the work you have on offer; how many hours are worked in a typical day/week in peak season; what type of work / work flexibility do your employees want?
7. Explain why part-time and casual employment is important to your business.
8. What will you do if the rules change and you have to pay overtime to casuals?
9. If you made no rostering changes, how much would this cost your business in overall terms?
10. What will you do if a new 4 hour minimum engagement rule comes in? Did you previously have a minimum engagement and what did this mean for your business and your staff?
Are any of your employees interested in making a statement about how some of these changes would affect them? Here are some questions they might like to answer.
11. Why do you work for this business?
12. What made you apply for the work?
13. What hours do you work?
14. Are you happy with your current hours of work?
15. How does your work fit in with your other commitments (school, second job, study, caring etc.)
16. How would you feel if your employer made changes to the business so that you got less hours, or had to stay for longer even if there was no work to do?
17. How would this affect you?
As the modern award review progresses, it is becoming clear that the process will establish a series of test cases on claims being made. That is, a claim made about only a few awards can easily result in a new model term that applies to all awards. This is despite there being a lack of evidence in relation to a particular issue to demonstrate that the change is warranted.
For example, the Horticulture Award and Wine Industry Award have now been varied to include an obligation to pay accident make-up pay for the first 26 weeks of workers compensation. The NFF opposed these claims, because not a single piece of evidence was led in the proceedings about the need for accident pay in the agriculture sector. Despite this, the Commission granted the claims. The draft determination varying the Horticulture Award can be found here.
Hearings continue in relation to whether annual leave and time off in lieu of overtime terms should be varied in all awards or just those that were initially subject to a claim. The NFF is seeking to exclude the agricultural awards from new model terms, which are less flexible and more prescriptive than current arrangements. Further hearings are scheduled in October and December to resolve the matters.
New cherry fact sheets are now available on the TIA web page: TIA Perennial Horticulture FACT SHEETS
- Adaptation tipping points for Australian fruit industry: Information on how climate - winter chill, spring frost risk, extreme heat exposure can impact on yield
- National Development Program for cherries
- Integrated Pest Management fact sheets
- 2015 IPDM calendar
- Calcium and cracking
- The role of cytolin in preventing cherry cracking
The Victorian Cherry Assocation held its 2015 Annual General Meeting on Thursday, 15 October 2015 at the Horticulture Centre of Excellence, Tatura. Speakers on the day included Penny Meesham, Tree Physiology Research Fellow, University of Tasmania who spoke on Fruit quality-firmness and Jesse Reader, General Manager, AgFirst who discussed the benefits of collecting industry data.
Following the AGM everyone attended an orchard walk at Pickworth Orchards.
The presentations from the day are now available below for download.
To the Australian Cherry Industry
The CGA Board over the past 12 months has been working with the State Association members and listening to growers to develop this discussion paper, please see attachment below.
The CGA Board has been delayed in the process due to:
· the change over of Horticulture Australia Limited to Horticulture Innovation Australia and the ongoing use of levy funds;
· the outcomes of the Senate Review on Levies that delivered its report at the end of June this year.
The discussion paper is for you to read and think about the future of the industry over the next 3-5 years and beyond.
The CGA office will be holding a National Directions Forum 2020 on 18 September in Melbourne, please see notice attached below and series of workshops around the country leading to a final ballot paper being developed and approved by the CGA Board and then will go to a Formal Ballot in November.
The results from the poll will go into a final report to be sent to the Federal Minister of Agriculture by the end of 2015.
The review process will not affect the levies to be collected this financial year but any voted changes should be in place for the 2016/17 financial year.
Please give Simon Boughey, the CGA CEO a call or email him if you need anything clarified, his details are on page 13 of the Discussion Paper?