Fruitpicking Backpackers Account For Most Ombudsman Pay Disputes

They want to see the fruits of their labour.

11/05/2016 8:48 AM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:52 PM AEST
The most linkely pay dispute comes form female fruitpickers in thier 20s.

Of all the travellers and international students working in Australia, fruitpickers are the most likely to contact the Fair Work Ombudsman over pay disputes.

New statistics from the national ombudsman showed $2.2 million in underpaid wages was recovered for people on working holidays last year and disputes from visa holders accounted for 12.6 percent of all ombudsman complaints across the nation.

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James said women were more likely than men to contact the ombudsman and the most common complaints were from being underpaid or not paid at all.

"While many employers want to do the right thing, there are some who seek to gain a competitive advantage by exploiting vulnerable workers, such as visa-holders," James said.

The majority of requests for assistance came from fruit and vegetable pickers and packers in Queensland and NSW.

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Backpacking fruitpickers can dispute pay claims with the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Swedish traveller Bianca Martin went fruitpicking in NSW in 2015 and told The Huffington Post Australia backpackers didn't always know their rights.

"A lot of people come to Australia thinking about the beaches and the sunshine and they think they can just work for cash in hand," Martin said.

"I met some people who were picking fruit in NSW for less than $25 a day.

"Really it's up to backpackers to find out what they should be being paid and make sure it's right. Once you've gone through the effort of getting a visa, it's worth making sure you get paid."

The ombudsman has launched a number of inquiries into the working holiday sector including a review of the wages and conditions for workers with 417 working holiday visas, an inquiry into arrangements for cleaners at 4 and 5 star hotels and an inquiry into the horticulture and viticulture sectors nationally.

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