British backpackers ‘fired’ first day of fruit picking on New Zealand farm

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Two English backpackers who say they were fired on their first day of strawberry picking at a New Zealand farm have put the owner on blast on TikTok to warn others.

However, the farmer has denied she sacked them.

Luke and May, both 23, said they got the job through a Facebook page for fruit picking backpackers before arriving in the country.

When they arrived at Wee Red Barn in Masterton, they said they had a brief meeting with the owner, Dot Bissett, and were told they could camp and cook in a dedicated field, which would cost them $NZ75 a week.

“We went and parked in the field anywhere we wanted because she said we could and then literally five minutes later, she comes marching out and shouted at us,” May claimed in the video.

The couple also claim they were then told they had to cook in a kitchen that was like a “musty little barn” with “dirt, mould, dust” and “little mice running around everywhere”.

They said they decided to stick it out, but the following day, being their first day on the job, didn’t get any better.

The couple said they were given brief instructions for about five minutes and went on to do a full day of work, which they had no issues with.

Luke said they were on their last few rows of strawberries when Ms Bissett reappeared, and May turned to look at her.

“Then she started shouting at May for turning around,” Luke said.

“She told me to not turn over my shoulder and look at other people and to get on with picking,” May added.

They claim they were further scolded for not picking damaged berries at the bottom of the bushes that had been eaten by geese.

“We’d lost our jobs then,” Luke said.

May added: “We worked hard all day, hit the targets, everything she wanted to do, but yet she sacked us because I looked over my shoulder, he looked at me. She called us children.”

The video has been viewed more than 250,000 times with the couple saying they wanted to share their experience publicly to help other backpackers avoid the same.

“We never expected our video to go viral, so we were very shocked, but we honestly just post videos for our families to watch back home, and any added follower who enjoys watching our content,” May told news.com.au.

“We are grateful for the amount of support from everyone, and to the people who reached out and experienced the same treatment as we did. So our message got out there which was our end goal.”

Ms Bissett had a different story she shared with New Zealand Herald, claiming on the first day she had told them not to cook outside or park in the long grass due to a fire ban.

On the second day, she claimed the couple had been told to pick off the “rubbish berries” in a 30 minute training that morning.

“They never got fired, I never fired them,” Ms Bissett told the publication, claiming the couple walked off.

Ms Bissett said she tried to make it a nice place for all their workers, according to the NZ Herald.

News.com.au contacted Ms Bissett for further comment.