After providing $150,000 to settle an underpayments claim brought by five fruit pickers last year, labour hire company Agri Labour Australia is facing a new claim from 26 seasonal workers alleging they were short-paid more than $200,000.
In a development that might fuel debate over the links between union power and wage rises, substantially above-average pay increases secured in the heavily-unionised construction sector have pushed bargained private sector wage rises off their recent historic low.
APS Commissioner John Lloyd denies that a new public sector bargaining policy contains an added push towards individual flexibility arrangements, but the CPSU says its "explicit encouragement" along with the extension of a 2% pay rise cap undermines bargaining, wages and conditions.
Woolworths has committed to working with the NUW to ensure that it complies with minimum labour and human rights standards in its fresh food supply chain, while it has also struck a new enterprise agreement for its Victorian warehouses that increases pay by 4% a year.
Just a week after RBA Governor Philip Lowe called for workers to push for bigger wage rises, the FWC has approved a deal that secures increases of just 2% a year for his own 1000-strong workforce, but with the prospect, for some, of also winning performance-based bonuses.