Feature image: Greater Shepparton City Council
Fruit Growers Victoria is urging people to get a fruit harvesting job this Summer as they are concerned crops may just go to waste due to a significant lack of workers for the upcoming season.
The fruit growers have not been able to fill their vacant positions since the pandemic when international working holiday visa holders returned to their home countries. The farmers are hoping that Victorians looking for work will consider fruit harvesting this season. The Government is encouraging people to apply by launching a new incentive fund.
Most of the available work right now is in the Shepparton and Goulburn Valley areas. Those who relocate to take up the short-term agricultural positions for a minimum of six weeks can apply for Government Relocation Assistance. The assistance package is up to $6,000 for Australian job seekers and up to $2,000 for international job seekers.
“Our usual workers that are essential in ensuring our seasonal fruit crops are available in supermarkets and markets are gone,” said Michael Crisera, Growers Services Manager at Fruit Growers Victoria.
“The Victorian fruit industry is at risk and the repercussions of not having enough workers will not only impact the farmers themselves but the consumer. The consequences will be significant wastage, lack of income for the growers and rising prices for customers.
“No experience is needed to work on the Harvest Trail and there are different jobs across the season such as fruit picking, packing, thinning and pruning. It is a great opportunity to experience regional Victoria, try new things, learns some new skills and meet new people.”
Fruit grown in Victoria that requires harvesting this season includes nectarines, peaches, plums, pears and apples.
No experience is necessary. Applicants just need to be physically fit and healthy and have a positive attitude. A typical day will be from 7 am to 3 pm or from 6 am to 2 pm. It can be longer depending on the weather and fruit. Some employers will supply accommodation although charges usually apply. Other alternate accommodation options include caravan parks and backpacker hostels.
Workers are usually paid on a piecework rate (volume of fruit picked), though some orchards may offer an hourly award rate paid weekly or fortnightly. Those applying are encouraged to discuss pay rates with the employer prior to commencing work. Fruit Growers Victoria supplies its members with a minimum piecework rate and all growers are bound by the Horticulture Award 2020. The average competent picker can earn at least 15% more on a piecework rate than on the hourly award rate.
Victorians who have recently graduated, those who have recently lost their job, people looking for a new experience or work avenue are encouraged to apply.
Harvesting will start in mid-January and go through until Autumn. There may be opportunities for some workers to stay on to do pruning and general farm jobs.
Those considering a job in fruit harvesting in Victoria should visit https://greatershepparton.com.au/business/pick-shepp.
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