cheryl alcock commented on Questions
2017-03-24 05:20:19 +1100
My questions are for a friend of mine, named Peter, he will be turning 51 in April. He has been working on a local dairy farm for the past four years.
He is employed casually. He does set shifts of morning milk starting at 5 am until anything up until 9.00 am and afternoon shifts starting at 1.30 pm. His working week begins on Wednesday morning and ends on Sunday afternoon.
He earns base wage. It is hard to tell you exactly what, but he does not receive pay slips. He has asked for them before. He is receiving superannuation. He never earned penalty rates for his weekend shifts, but he is not earning higher rates of pay to cover holidays etc either.
He has a lot of trouble getting time off from these set shifts and is too afraid to speak up in fear of losing his job. He approached the boss for one Sunday afternoon off, and tried to explain that he was tired. The next day the owner (who has the weekends off) said he could not cover his afternoon milk, because he was ‘tired’ too). This is the last request of many.
My friend is not in a position to save up for a holiday. One afternoon is all he can afford.
He is punctual, reliable and loyal to the family. But I see him as being exploited. Recently the farm changed generational hands (it was the son who declined him the afternoon).
You might find it interesting to know that since he stopped getting income support to supplement his low pay, his pay has further lowered. I believe that the farm was working in with the ‘job search agency’ in an illegal way to keep people in work, in a screwed up system. I am questioning how much financial benefit they were receiving for his ‘employment’ even though he gainfully found the work himself. Last year Mission Australia had given him a false plan that called him as work for the dole despite his consistent working for years with the farm. I sent this off to the local member, Peter eventually stopped getting the supplement (because he was having to pay tax), and funnily enough, his weekly pay cheque (that he chases up and deposits himself) was reduced at least $50.00.
I believe he should have been offered better rates and conditions by now, but I am furious about his humble afternoon off. The last time away from work was for his 50th last year, one week that he used to travel and see his children with my help.
There is little wonder that farmers need Visa workers, they can be extremely unreasonable and are the first people to complain about someone around here anyway.
What can you help my friend with? In my eyes he is a slave, locked in by geography and limited work, the threat of losing his job.