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Farm workers who hand-pick crops to get wage increase: B.C. gov’t

The provincial government says farm workers who hand harvest certain crops in B.C. will be getting a wage increase, starting New Year’s Day. The crops include apples, grapes and cherries.
The provincial government says farm workers who hand harvest certain crops in B.C. will be getting a wage increase, starting New Year’s Day. The crops include apples, grapes and cherries. Global News

Starting New Year’s Day, the minimum wage for farm workers who hand harvest certain crops in B.C. will increase by 11.5 per cent, the provincial government announced on Friday.

In making the announcement, the government said the 11.5 per cent piece-rate increase is the same rate that was made to B.C.’s minimum wage in June 2018. The government added that, in B.C., piece rates are set for 15 different crops, including mushrooms, apples, cherries, grapes, peas and green beans.

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“Farm workers who harvest specified crops by hand may be paid by piece rate,” the government says in its farm workers factsheet. “If an employer chooses to pay a piece rate, farm workers must be paid at least the minimum piece rate for each crop as set out in the regulation.”

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In September 2017, the minimum wage was $11.35 per hour. On June 1st, 2018, it was $12.65 an hour. On June 1st 2019, it will bump up to $13.85 per hour.

For piece-work crops, the price of apples, for example, will go up on January 1st to $21.06 a bin from $18.89 a bin. For grapes, the increase will be $22.38 for a half-bin from $20.07 for a half-bin. For cherries, the increase will be $0.277 a pound from $0.248 a pound.

READ MORE: N.S. minimum wage committee recommends annual increase of $0.55/hr over 3 years

The government also said “the Fair Wages Commission is taking an in-depth look at how to ensure compensation for farmworkers is both fair for workers and sustainable for farm operators.”

The province said the independent Fair Wages Commission was established to advise government on an approach to raising provincial minimum wages with increases that are regular, measured and predictable.

For more about B.C.’s piece rate categories, click here.