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Last updated

08 July 2016

1912 Fruit-pickers Case

The Rural Workers’ Union and South Australian United Labourers’ Union v The Employers, Parties to the Temporary Agreement referred to in the Order of the President, dated the 1st December, 1911 – The Mildura Branch of the Australian Dried Fruits Association and Others (Fruit-pickers Case) (1912) 6 CAR 61 – Higgins J, Judgment, 20 June 1912

The first case before the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration dealing with 'the problem of female labour'. Justice Higgins rejects a union call for equal pay for equal work. He makes a 'tentative' decision that women should be paid the same rate as men if they are doing male work (e.g. blacksmiths) or work where men and women are in competition (e.g. fruit-picking). Women working in women's jobs, however, should be paid less than men. He sets a rate of 9 pence an hour for a woman fruit-packer compared to 1 shilling an hour for a male fruit-picker.