INVESTIGATION: Fair Work inspectors talk with strawberry workers.
INVESTIGATION: Fair Work inspectors talk with strawberry workers. Vicki Wood

Strawberry farms underpaid 100 foreign workers

THREE Caboolture strawberry farms have been fined for breaching workplace laws.

The Fair Work ombudsman recovered $7500 for 100 mostly foreign workers from the three farms.

Fair Work Senior Inspector Jenny Crook said the money had been repaid to the workers following surprise visits to farms over the past month by inspectors.

Three farms were also fined for failing to provide all required information on payslips and for failing to keep records of hours worked by casual workers.

Inspectors visited nine farms between August 6-8.

Ms Crook said all farms were found to be in breach of workplace laws in some way.

"We provided the employers with some information to help them to comply with the law," she said.

Last week Ms Crook and her team of inspectors returned to the farms to ensure the changes had been made.

"We were pleased to see the majorty of the farms had rectified these issues," she said.

While the inspectors were pleased with what appears to be an increasing awareness of obligations under workplace law, there were still issues of concern.

Ms Crook said inspectors spoke directly with more than 100 foreign workers who sought clarification of entitlements and also raised specific concerns about underpayment of wages.

"As a result, we've been able to determine that on three farms there were underpayments and $7500 has now been repaid to 100 workers from three separate farms," Ms Crook said.

Investigations continue into possible underpayment of about $16,000 to five farm workers.

The Fair Work ombudsman will be maintaining a close eye on the sector over the remainder of the season and will take action to ensure workers receive their full entitlements.

Employers and employees seeking information about their obligations or rights can contact the Fair Work ombudsman on 13 13 94 or, if a translator is required, on 13 14 50.



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