Employer masterclass: lessons from Biteriot?

Fiona Hall, Biteriot, Caernarvon Cherry

Why are some Biteriot employees paid $70 per day, and other Biteriot workers working 27.5 hours day, 192 hours per week? What is the right level of employee remuneration / incentive in a pandemic, what can other farmers learn from Nuffield Scholar, Fiona Hall and master motivator Claudio Brown?

Whine or wine?

Renowned winetaster, Fiona Hall of Biteriot recently complained about the local workforce in Orange, NSW saying:

the inability of overseas backpackers … had led to staff shortages … they employed university and high school students …

“We had some good locals, but we [also] had some locals who did one day on, one day off [lacking] consistency,” ….

Mrs Hall said the government’s COVID-relief payments had not helped with the staff shortages.

“It wasn’t an incentive for people to go out and pick cherries,” she said.

https://www.westernmagazine.com.au/story/7077807/challenging-cherry-season-ends-after-export-staff-and-rain-issues/?cs=1549

What is really going on at Biteriot?

The writer wonders, given chief fruit picker Fiona Hall is involved in the phoenixing of 4 Bonny Glen companies in liquidation with DW Advisory – does Fiona feel her companies have paid sufficient tax to warrant the Government providing some kind of fruit growers exemption from the Covid relief package?

The writer also wonders what has changed?

At one stage, Biteriot had no trouble getting unemployed local teenagers to work picking fruit. A case in point is the worker known as Claudio Brown.

Claudio's payslip - Biteriot
Claudio’s payslip – Biteriot

Once upon a time Biteriot employed Claudio who, whilst still a minor, worked a total of 27.5hrs a day.

The writer observes that Claudio Brown paid no tax (perhaps the kind of incentive Fiona has in mind?)

Fiona wants to employ motivated staff like Claudio Brown???

The writer wonders why Fiona, an alleged Nuffield Scholar, doesn’t re-employ Claudio as a mentor to help “some locals” (as Fiona refers to them) lacking motivation…. Claudio works 27.5 hours per day.

Does Biteriot expect too much of locals?

Perhaps Mrs Hall, before criticising Orange locals, apart from employing Claudio Brown as a mentor, should she also perhaps consider a report from the employees perspective in today’s ABC (online)?

Extracted from a story on ABC – source: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-01-14/when-backpackers-went-home-these-australians-tried-farm-work/13047062

The ABC article discusses potential motivational topics for Claudio Brown to coach SOME locals on:

What fruitpickers say (ABC):

ABC reported:

Nineteen-year-old Matthew Rolston bought a bus ticket … had the full backpacker experience — even staying in a hostel.

His first ever fruit-picking job was “actually rather enjoyable” at first.

“I kind of went through half a bottle of water, realised there was nowhere to fill it up and had to ration half a bottle of water for the rest of the day,” he said. …

Hostels cost more than wages earned

Things on the farm ended “rather sourly” for Mr Rolston when his wages for six 10-hour working days came through — three weeks after he first started.

A man sitting on the ground.

Luka said he made $280 in six days picking fruit.(Supplied)

“And then, when we did end up getting paid, we didn’t get the full amount,” he said.

“I was supposed to earn around $550, I ended up getting $450.

“There was no way that we’d be making over a $1,000.”

His friend Luka Wighton, who also worked on the farm, said he had gone along hoping for “a bit of an adventure” — but ended up feeling “a little bit taken advantage of”.

“It was exhausting work … I mean, I’d be fine with it, if it was more pay, but we were kind of at a loss,” he said.

His $280 wage — paid on piece-rate agreement — meant he paid more for his accommodation at the hostel than he earned, as did Mr Rolston.

“I didn’t expect to make much money, but I thought I’d go back with a little bit of a profit,” Mr Wighton said.

Chloe said she gets paid hourly and that her rate was about $14.

Jodie* was hesitant to share her tale of rejection under her real name … At times she said felt employers “danced around” the wage topic, tried to make the job sound “as unappealing as possible” or made “unreasonable” requests.

She said she was starting to think some farmers might prefer migrant workers to Australians because they would be less likely to complain about small wages.

“I feel like they don’t have the same sort of legal requirements around wages,” she said.

“I know a lot of them live on site and [employers] charge them accommodation and all that sort of stuff.”

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-01-14/when-backpackers-went-home-these-australians-tried-farm-work/13047062

What Biteriot employees are paid (SBS):

The writer observes Fiona Hall’s worker told SBS he was paid about $70 per day!

Not bad!

Biteriot - backpacker pay rates
Biteriot – backpacker pay rates – $70 per day …. …. see video @15m, 10seconds

Source: https://www.sbs.com.au/ondemand/video/1745497667922/dateline-pandemic-farming-apples-and-oranges?action=play …. see video @15m, 10seconds

This is sharply different to the wage of under 18 year old local fruitpicker known as Claudio Brown – earning sometime $4800 per week (tax free) working 27.5 hours a day.

Despite the writer having an MBA, the writer would need to draw upon the expertise of Nuffield Scholar Fiona Hall to know which is the appropriate level of pay and incentive and what government incentives (or dis-incentives) should apply?

Claudio's payslip - Biteriot
Claudio’s payslip – Biteriot

What other Biteriot employees have to say?

The writer is unsure whether the below staff are working 27.5 hours per day or on a more conventional $70 per day pay rate? The writer notes however the following independent review on Biteriot via google:

Source: https://bit.ly/3sveACg

Want to know more? Like to enrol in a Claudio Brown motivational course? Like to get better productivity from your picking team?

Would you like to tell us confidentially about your experiences? Are you interested to join the Caernarvon / Biteriot Employee Wage Theft class action?

Do you know Claudio Brown?

Do you know if this is the voice of Claudio Brown?

is this the voice of Claudio Brown? #whoisclaudiobrown

Do you have information on government incentives Biteriot should get to subsidise its workforce?

For more information – chat with us live using our instant chat tools (bottom corners), book an appointment or call now on 1300-327123 (till late).

To contact us with any confidential tip-offs, files or information – please use the instant chat tools or form below:

Meet the Biteriot / Caernarvon team: Bruce Johnston

Biteriot's accountant - Bruce Johnston (pre conviction)

Meet valued team member of Biteriot & Caernarvon Cherry – Bruce Johnston.

Bruce was once described this way:

Bruce Alan Johnston was a senior accountant for Newcrest Mining Limited, involved in the development of the Cadia East Mine.

Between 1 July 2010 and 27 August 2013, Mr Johnston prepared 156 invoices in the name of Bramph Consultancy Services. But no such entity existed, and the funds were placed into bank accounts controlled by Johnston.

The invoices were purported to be for consultancy services in relation to the Cadia Mine project. The total amount of money Johnston transferred into his accounts was $1,257,847. He gradually gambled the funds away.

Johnston used online betting agencies, and a phone app to place his bets. At the height of his gambling spree, Johnston was placing up to 100 bets a day on several sports.

The fraud was discovered when someone noticed that no GST was being charged on the invoices. Newcrest senior management spoke with Johnston about the matter on 21 November 2013.

The father-of-two confessed to the crime, and was arrested and charged on 25 July 2014.

https://nswcourts.com.au/articles/gambling-addiction-does-not-lead-to-a-reduced-sentence/

To read more about Bruce’s career – please follow this link: click here.

Bruce, who partially succeeded Pamela Hall in accounts, was a trusted member of the Biteriot and Caernarvon team – handling accounts and dealing with grower payments and receipts and worked alongside fellow convicted fraudster Paula Neill, plus Fiona Hall & others.

It is unknown if Bruce met and knows the identity of the mysterious Claudio Brown?

Would you like to tell us confidentially about your experiences?

For more information – chat with us live using our instant chat tools (bottom corners), book an appointment or call now on 1300-327123 (till late).

To contact us with any confidential tip-offs, files or information – please use the instant chat tools or form below:

Caernarvon Cherry: Meet the team & fun facts

Meet the team - Caernarvon Cherry & Biteriot
Meet the team – Caernarvon Cherry & Biteriot

Guess which of the above has a criminal record (answer – its more than 1 person)?

Would you like to tell us confidentially about your experiences?

For more information – chat with us live using our instant chat tools (bottom corners), book an appointment or call now on 1300-327123 (till late).

To contact us with any confidential tip-offs, files or information – please use the instant chat tools or form below:

Biteriot’s busted business model: export cherry sales down 75%

Pandemic Farming: Apples And Oranges
Fiona Hall, Biteriot, Caernarvon Cherry – pays staff $70 per day and then complains that she can’t find workers?

Alleged Nuffield Scholar, Fiona Hall of Caernarvon / Biteriot has admitted that her export sales to the number 1 market in the world China, were down 75%.

Recently, Fiona gave an interview whereby she said:

“We only did a quarter of what we did [last year],” she said.

The entire article, published in the Central Western Daily can be viewed – click here.

A number of aspects of the article warrant fact checking:

  • Alleged fact:  Mainland Australia is well placed to supply cherries to China 

False – As per the following industry press articles, Southern Hemisphere cherry producer (Chile – with its ideal desert climate, low or no rainfall, low cost of production and favourable market access – they are not in a trade war with China) produces over 300,000 tonnes of fresh cherries per annum whilst mainland Australia produces around 15,000 tonnes in the same growing season.  Chile ship, as the industry press articles attached report, cherries by sea that by 12 December 2020 had already landed in China >1000 x 40’ sea containers. In contrast, Orange NSW loaded zero sea shipments this year, nor last year nor indeed ever.  Orange has not loaded even 1 sea shipment in the past 5 years. 

Recent industry press articles (confirming that Chile raised sales by 38% whilst Fiona and Biteriot export sales fell by 75% include:

  1. 30/12/2020 – Amidst Record Chilean Cherry Season, China Arrivals to Peak in Jan. | Produce Report
  2. 16/12/2020 – First Sea Shipment of Chilean Cherries Arrives in China | Produce Report
  3. 1/12/2020 – Chilean Cherry Shipment Prices Settling After Record Highs | Produce Report
  4. 2/11/2020 – Season’s First Batch of Chilean Cherries Arrives in Shanghai | Produce Report
  5. 9/9/2020 – Air Freight Cost for Australian Cherries Doubles, Even With Subsidies | Produce Report
  6. 9/3/2020 – China’s Fruit Import:Export Statistics for First Half of 2020 Released | Produce Report
  7. 6/1/2021 – Challenging Orange cherry season ends after export, staff and rain issues | Central Western Daily |
  • Alleged fact:  Orange NSW/Cabonne is a good place to grow cherries 

False – the rainfall is way too high to reliably grow (quality or competitive) cherries on the tablelands of NSW.  Alternatively the high desert production areas of Chile, with irrigation water supplied by extensive snow melt rivers receive around 6 inches of rain p/a, with no damaging rains during the growing season.  The elevated areas of the Canobolas growing area west of Orange NSW in Cabonne receives almost 7x more rain than Chile making cherry growing west of Orange NSW a high risk proposition, with profits likely perhaps once every 3 or 4 years? 

  • Alleged fact:  Obtaining labour to harvest cherries is difficult 

True – it is not viable to harvest cherries in Australia if Australian cherry pickers earn $25 per hour when Chilean producers pay under $9 per hour for harvest labour.

NB: We do not admit that Biteriot pays its staff $25 per hour. On the contrary, we are promoted a wage theft class action for underpaid Biteriot / Caernarvon & Bonny Glen workers. In a recent interview Fiona Hall admitted fruit pickers were only paid about $70 per dayclick link here and skip to 15 mins & 15 seconds

Fiona Hall, Biteriot, Caernarvon Cherry

It is not believed that Growers benefitted from the cut priced $70 per day wage rates, accordingly we are promoting a growers class action for ripped off growers / suppliers to Caernarvon Cherry & Biteriot.

We do not submit that ALL cherry farms are unviable, just the business model being employed by Topfruit China Australia and BiteriotTopfruit China Australia is owned by unknown foreign investors fronted by Guohao Chen (sometimes known as Vincent Guohao Chen) the heir to a toilet bowl empire in Guangzhou China.

We note that other growers (Thornbrook Orchard) in the CWD article report having had a “good season” under the you-pick model not favoured absentee Chinese neighbours.

Would you like to tell us confidentially about your experiences?

For more information – chat with us live using our instant chat tools (bottom corners), book an appointment or call now on 1300-327123 (till late).

To contact us with any confidential tip-offs, files or information – please use the instant chat tools or form below:

5R podcast – S01E01

Podcast Mark Smith

5R Podcast – S01E01 – Rogues, Rascals, Rorts, Rip-offs & Reviewables

5R Podcast – Mark Smith, DC Partners (Solutions) Pty Ltd

for more information and in-depth villain profiles – visit our webpage https://www.dcpartners.solutions/products-services/blog/podcast/ or use the tags below to preview a particular person

To share this video: In this series: https://youtu.be/QT-0USvUcy0

To view other podcasts in this series – go to our podcast page – click here

Mark Smith of DC Partners (Solutions) Pty Ltd sets the scene and discusses those villains or possible villains that we’ll be discussing throughout the remainder of the Season and subsequent seasons.

Season 1 will focus on:

Season 1, Episode 1 (Chapter 1) discusses the following:

If you have any tipoffs on any of the above – please use the instant chat tool below

For more information – chat with us live using our instant chat tools (bottom corners), book an appointment or call now on 1300-327123 (till late).

Caernarvon Cherry – employee class action

wage theft

Wage theft has been in the news in recent months with some State governments enacting laws to assist employees who have been the victim of wage theft.   

DCP has been approached by a number of people formerly employed at a company named Caernarvon Cherry Pty Ltd (possibly better known as Biteriot Cherry’s or Biteriot Apples (recently re-birthed as Biteriot Operations Pty Ltd)) of 474 Canobolas Rd, Orange (Biteriot).

Biteriot is presently being sued in the Federal Circuit Court (case SYG3175) for a case of alleged wage theft and other former employees may also be entitled to receive money?  Caernarvon is defending the case with the assistance of the NSW Farmers Federation. Caernarvon Cherry is operated by its Directors, Bernard and Fiona Hall. Fiona Hall was awarded a Nuffield Scholarship.

DCP Litigation has been asked to assemble a class action to claim allegedly underpaid wages – which is separate from another class action being finalised for allegedly ripped off farmers.

DCP Litigation is an associated company. We will shortly be announcing we have obtained the use of an AFSL in order to lawfully undertake class action and public litigation funding. More information to follow in a separate post.

Below are some articles explaining the serious issue of Wage Theft. Concerningly, Biteriot employed a number of persons convicted of fraud / criminal offences – including its former paymistress – Paula Neill and Accountant Bruce Johnston.

To sign up to the class action as an employee/victim click here: https://share.hsforms.com/1j9KAqztTSoWDhB2KOZx-tg2uveq

To go to our seperate farmer’s class action page click here.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact us via email us on class-actions@dcpartners.solution or live chat with us on this webpage – click in the bottom corner to livechat now.

Regards

Mark Smith, Director

PS.  If you prefer to raise your concerns about underpayment with the company itself, please email its director Fiona Hall on …. info@biteriot.com.au or call the company on (02) 6365 3477.  

Wage theft articles 

  1. Australian Unions article – https://www.australianunions.org.au/wage_theft_factsheet
  2. Victorian Government wage theft announcement – https://www.premier.vic.gov.au/new-laws-to-crack-down-on-wage-theft/
  3. Redfern Legal Centre blog – https://rlc.org.au/article/short-what-do-if-you-are-experiencing-wage-theft
  4. What to do if you are a victim of wage theft – https://rlc.org.au/article/short-what-do-if-you-are-experiencing-wage-theft
  5. Fairwork Commission video – https://youtu.be/9DdCc2qQeow
  6. ‘Like torture’: Australia’s wage theft epidemic runs deeper than recent headlines – https://thenewdaily.com.au/finance/work/2020/02/21/wage-theft-analysis/
  7. Underpaid (English language) – https://rlc.org.au/publication/factsheet-no3-underpaid-work
  8. Underpaid (Chinese language) – https://rlc.org.au/publication/factsheet-no3-underpaid-work-chinese-simple
  9. Paula Neill – Caernarvon pay-mistress profile: https://www.westernadvocate.com.au/story/1546606/woman-ordered-to-pay-back-thousands/
  10. Bruce Johnston – Caernarvon accountant profile: https://www.centralwesterndaily.com.au/story/4571593/gambler-jailed-after-losing-supreme-court-appeal/

Groundhog day for dwadvisory.com.au, liquidators of 4 Bonny Glen companies + Caernarvon Cherry Pty Ltd class action update

Orange, 18 December 2019 (day 147)

Welcome to Day 147 since the Bonny Glen auctions where Bernard Hall seemingly purchased $8.2m of land from Bonny Glen liquidator’s dwadvisory.com.au.

Or so it seemed:

Bernard Hall - when $8m means $4m
Bernard Hall – when $8m means $4m
But all was apparently not as it seemed?

As we’ve been reporting via this blog – for the last 147 days – the so called purchasers of $8.2m of property have failed to pay the balance of around $7.4m to the liquidators of the 4 Bonny Glen companies who auctioned those properties *.

And for 147 long days, the creditors of those companies (in liquidation), in particular the long-suffering business partner and brother of Bernard Hall (i.e. Tim Hall) must have felt like our poor Groundhog Day character.

So yesterday, just like the previous 146 days, we woke up and wondered if we’d be getting a new neighbour soon (Bernard is presently an adjoining landowner)? You may call this Groundhog Day?
A good question?

In case you don’t remember the movie Groundhog Day, here is the trailer for a laugh:

Anyway, the update for class action claimants is this: 

As at this morning – just like the previous 147 days, we all woke up and wondered if we’d be getting a new neighbour (Bernard is presently an adjoining landowner)? 

We all wondered for Bernard‘s brother and creditor Tim whether Bernard‘s company was ‘for real’.  

Bona fide.  

And yesterday, just like those 147 other previous days, still Bernard has not found the balance of $8.2m? 

This must be embarrassing?

In closing, if you are interested in joining our class-action against Bernard‘s company Caernarvon Cherry Pty Ltd (and you think this is a sign that Bernard‘s company is weak) then please complete the form here:  

https://www.dcpartners.solutions/2019/07/caernarvon-class-action/ 

or call us on 1300-327123 to discuss the nature of your exposure to the proposed Defendants. 

Alternatively if you’d like to make an appointment to see Mark in Orange over Christmas to early New Year period, in Orange, please click this link: 

Book appointment

Thanks for your interest, have a safe and Happy Christmas. 
 
Yours faithfully,
Mark Smith, Director
DCP Litigation Holdings Pty Ltd
 
call 1300-327123 (till late)
 
* search records as at 17 December and 19 December 2019.

For more information – chat with us live using our instant chat tools (bottom corners), book an appointment or call now on 1300-327123 (till late).

To contact us with any tip-offs, files or information – please use the instant chat tools or form below:

Bernard Hall – companies in liquidation

Bernard Francis Hall

Company director Bernard Francis Hall has 4 companies now in liquidation.

These companies include:

All 4 companies have DW Advisory as liquidator.

Particulars of the liquidations, including the first report to creditors can be located on DW Advisory’s website here.

Despite having been appointed almost 2 months ago, DW Advisory has not realised 90% by value of the sale of the Bonny Glen partnership properties (according to title searches of 14 November 2019) auctioned in Orange on 24 July 2019.

We understand some of Bernard’s remaining companies continue to rent properties from the liquidator despite having contracts that required them to complete the sales in September 2019 – 2 months ago – still incomplete?  An inspection of the title’s of the subject properties in the hands of the liquidator’s states:

“NO CERTIFICATE OF TITLE HAS ISSUED FOR THE CURRENT EDITION OF THIS FOLIO.  CONTROL OF THE RIGHT TO DEAL IS HELD BY WESTPAC BANKING CORPORATION.”  

We further understand there is an allegation that the liquidator has failed to collect 1 or more years rent from Bernard’s lessee company?  Whilst there may be sound business reason for not collecting this rent from Bernard’s company (?), DCP sincerely hope the interests of all creditors (not just interests associated with Bernard Hall) are being protected by DW Advisory in their trusted role as liquidator?  We understand complaints have been made about aspects of the liquidator’s conduct to date to bodies including ASIC and other regulators?

Below is a partial overview of the Hall families business structure.

Hall family tree of businesses
Hall family tree of businesses

 

For more information – chat with us live using our instant chat tools (bottom corners), book an appointment or call now on 1300-327123 (till late).

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Correct as at 14 November 2019.

Caernarvon Cherry Pty Ltd / cherry growers of Orange class action and litigation further update from DCP Litigation Holdings Pty Ltd

Fiona Hall packing her bags

Thursday 14 November 2019, 5.50pm

Dear potential claimant,

Further to our class action potential claimants newsletter of late last week, we can now advise the following (also see our video) that, according to the attached title searches:

The identity of the purchaser, seemingly being a superfund, suggests the purchases were not intended to be debt financed – super funds find it difficult to borrow funds even mortgages.

The failure of Bernard Hall’s trustee company to purchase those properties, after some 115 days being available to them to raise finances, which it was contracted to purchase suggests things are not good in the Hall camp ….

With:

  • 4 related companies in liquidation,
  • a litigation war between Bernard and his family,
  • the failure to complete 4 out of 5 contracts* (with a $740,000 deposit seemingly at risk),
  • with a litigant seeking a judgment in the sum of around $620,000 and
  • other unknown issues under the surface,

suppliers and customers of Bernard’s company Caernarvon Cherry Pty Ltd, perhaps justifiably, may well have concerns about whether Caernarvon really is a going concern and long-term partner?

More detailed analysis will follow re what the above means (or may mean) to proposed class action participants.

More detailed information on the Hall’s is available on our webpages:

If you are interested in our class-action please complete the form here:  https://www.dcpartners.solutions/2019/07/caernarvon-class-action/ and complete the participants form or call us to discuss the nature of your exposure to the proposed defendants.
Yours faithfully,
call 1300-327123 (till late)
* records as at 4.53pm, 14 November 2019.

For more information – chat with us live using our instant chat tools (bottom corners), book an appointment or call now on 1300-327123 (till late).

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Bernard Hall – updated profile

Bernard Francis Hall

Bernard Hall splashes out $8.2m (but fails to complete) – and as at 14 November 2019 – his companies still had only completed 1 of 5 purchases … 90% of the purchase prices still remains unpaid.  Moreover, 4 of Bernard’s companies are now in liquidation, yet despite this the liquidators seem in no hurry to, well, liquidate those 4 companies or their millions of dollars of real estate.

It seems a key assumption by Bernard Hall may be in error.  Bernard is quoted by the Central Western Daily as indicating a belief that he only needed to find the ‘other half’ of the equity he didn’t presently own in the Bonny Glen properties.

Bernard Hall - when $8m means $4m
Bernard Hall – when $8m means $4m

More than 106 days after the auction (as at 8 November 2019), Bernard and his company’s have failed to complete the purchase of 4 of the 5 Bonny Glen properties he bid to purchase at a cost of $8.15m.

In early November 2019, a notice to complete under those 4 incomplete contracts has been issued upon Bernard Hall making completion, at a final price of about $7.4m, time being of the essence, essential by the close of business on 14 November 2019.  As at the close of business on that day (yesterday), Bernard’s purchasing companies had failed to complete.

Bernard, husband of Fiona, is a director of the Bonny Glen companies (in liquidation) and holds a direct financial interest in those properties.

Despite this, it is believed that Bernard cannot simply transfer those interests to the purchasing vehicles, he had to complete the purchase contracts (it is believed) hence the notices to complete.

It would appear from Bernard’s quotes (see article above) he believed he could merely just pay a top up sum to buy out his brother and parents from the properties?  Did his Nuffield Scholar wife also hold this belief?

Bernard (with Fiona) is a joint shareholder and director of Caernarvon Cherry Pty Ltd and other related companies.

The family tree of the Bonny Glen and Hall family/s is below:

Hall family tree of businesses
Hall family tree of businesses

If you have any comments or information about Bernard & Fiona Hall, we’d love to hear from you including any documents using our instant chat, the below form or by phone on 1300-327123.

To contact us with any tip-offs, files or information – please use the instant chat tools or form below: