Want to pick blueberries
at Tumbarumba?

All recruiting via
Corindi farm.

Phone (02) 6649 2784

 

               
Tumbarumba Blueberry Producers
134 Taradale Road,
Tumbarumba NSW 2653

 

 

 

 

 

Harvest season

The blueberry harvest season runs from late December to early February each year.

Picking and Packing

The main focus of the business is high quality fresh blueberries; all fresh blueberries are hand harvested and hand packed. Harvesting of fresh fruit is a labour intensive operation and requires large numbers of pickers, with some packers also required. Market destinations for the fresh blueberries include Australia , Japan and UK .

Hand picking work often commences at approximately 8.00am each morning, although this start time can vary according to the weather conditions at the time. Fresh blueberries cannot be harvested wet, therefore there must not be any dew or rain present, for this reason the start time is usually not earlier than 8.00am . For the above reasons, no harvest is possible on rainy days. Picking often runs 7 days a week but not on major public holidays such as New Year’s Day or Christmas & Boxing Day. Employment is covered under the current Certified Workplace Agreement. Hand harvest usually concludes at 3.00pm to 4.00pm but this again can be determined by the weather.

Packing shed hours are typically 10.00am to 6.00pm but this depends on the quantity of fruit to be packed. Picking is much more labour intensive than packing so packing employment opportunities are limited. Packers are often experienced pickers.

Picking blueberries is not difficult with all work carried out from the ground. The blueberry bushes are not tall and are easily accessed. There are no thorns or impediments to the picker. The fruit is grown in clusters with the fruit ripening gradually within each cluster. Each blueberry bush is picked a number of times each season with only the ripe fruit removed each time.

The picking method is to pick into a 3 litre container tied around the waist of each picker. This allows the use of two hands. Pickers sort as they pick and are asked not to pick immature blueberries. When the container is near full the picker then carefully places the blueberries into a shallow tray. All picking containers and trays are provided. When the picker accumulates two trays they are taken to the supervisor’s station for weighing in and quality checking.

Pickers are assigned a team, each with its own supervisor. The supervisor is responsible for the quality of blueberries harvested by the team, recording individual picker volumes and ensuring the picking is done in a satisfactory manner. The supervisor assigns pickers to rows and portions of rows. It is not necessary to be a physically large or strong person to pick blueberries well. It does take a few days to master the picking technique. Manual dexterity helps, as does application to the job. To enable a satisfactory wage to be earned pickers need to be dedicated to the task and work undistracted. As with any fruit picking not everyone is suited to the task, some people will find they are unable to pick reasonable volumes of blueberries.

The blueberry farm provides clean amenities, fresh drinking water and shady areas.

Important items for blueberry picking include enclosed footwear, long sleeved top and protection from the sun including a hat. Packing shed workers will be asked to wear enclosed footwear and hairnets. Pickers also need to remember to bring lunch and something to drink, canteen facilities are not available.

Employment preference is given to people who are likely to stay for the duration of the harvest season.

Wages

Picking is paid on piece rates of between $2.20 and $4.00/kg. This rate varies depending on how easy it is to pick the fruit and make a reasonable wage.

Reasonable pickers should be able to pick 5-6kgs per hour. The average competent picker can earn between $16.50 and $18.00 per hour. Shed work and other tasks are paid by the hour. In July 2005 the adult wage is $17.07 for working in the packing shed.

The pay week runs from Wednesday to Tuesday, with funds available on or before Friday each week.

On the first day, before work can commence, all new employees are asked to provide correct banking details and their tax file number. Payment of wages is paid by electronic transfer to each individual’s bank account. To ensure prompt payment and avoid delays, it is most important to provide the correct banking details. If they are not Australian citizens, prospective new employees will be asked to show their passport with a visa that allows work in Australia .

All employees are required to undergo an induction before commencing work, this covers general employment information and workplace health and safety guidelines.

Work cannot be commenced without all correct personal details being provided, passports checked where applicable and the induction completed, this takes about 1 hour.

Daily Transport from Tumbarumba to the farm

The company provides a bus for daily transport for pickers from the Tumbarumba Caravan Park to the farm and return. A small fee is charged for this. Packers are required to provide their own transport as the hours are different to that of pickers.