Federal Member for Bendigo will today move a motion in the House of Representatives condemning the Liberal Government for their inaction on the exploitation of temporary work visa holders.
A recent report by the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) said that “migrant worker complaints of mistreatment had soared in recent years, and sponsorship breaches were often deliberate acts of exploitation by unscrupulous employers”.
Ms Chesters said today that the Government’s record on this issue is awful. Not only have they failed to address and implement the findings of the recent FWO reports on this matter, the Government has also relaxed regulations for allowing temporary visa workers, instead of toughening the rules.
“This widespread unconscionable conduct is creating a sub-class of workers and is putting at risk the conditions of all Australians,” said Ms Chesters
The motion calls on the Liberal Government to immediately strengthen the work visa safeguards and to ensure that Australia’s work visa program is not being used as a back avenue to source cheap labour.
“The fact is that temporary work visas are having a devastating effect on local workers and are creating a cheap imported workforce.
“Hazeldenes, Don KR and Hardwicks are just of few examples of Central Victorian companies opting to employ some temporary visa workers before locals.
“With youth unemployment in the region reaching 18.2 per cent, it is "not acceptable" for local companies to be looking to labour hire companies who supply 100% overseas temporary work visa workers to fill vacancies.
"I continue to hear locals - young and old - who have either had their shifts cut or have been unable to get work at all that are disappointed that they have been unable to get work," Ms Chesters said.
"It's no coincidence that at the same time our job market is being flooded with unskilled workers from overseas who are working for below the award rates."
MS L. M. CHESTERS: To move—That this House:
(a) the ongoing media reports and Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) findings into the exploitation of
Working Holiday visa (subclass 417) holders, Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457)
holders and international students;
(b) nationwide monitoring by the FWO has uncovered suspected exploitation in 20 per cent of
560 migrant Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457) worker cases examined between
October 2014 and January 2015;
(c) the FWO said ‘migrant workers complaints of mistreatment had soared in recent years, and
sponsorship breaches were often deliberate acts of exploitation by unscrupulous employers’;
(d) exploitation by employers has been identified in various industries including but not limited to
construction, hospitality, cleaning, food processing, agriculture, the marketing and promotions
sector, privately owned childcare centres and kindergartens, shopping trolley collectors and
postal service contractors;
(e) many of these workers are low paid and low skilled, and are on Temporary Work (Skilled)
visas (subclass 457), Working Holiday visas (subclass 417) or student visas; and
(f) this unconscionable conduct is widespread and is creating a sub class of workers that does not
just hurt the employees; it puts at risk the pay and working conditions of all Australians;
(2) acknowledges the:
(a) recent hard work of the FWO to monitor, investigate, and expose potential breaches of the work
visa program and Australian workplace laws; and
(b) proactive role the Australian union movement has played to highlight and expose
unconscionable conduct by some employers and industries exploiting temporary visa workers;
(3) condemns the Government’s:
(a) inaction to immediately address and implement the findings of recent FWO reports in relation
to this matter; and
(b) recent moves to relax regulations for bringing in temporary visa workers, instead of toughening
the rules; and
(4) calls on the Government to:
(a) immediately strengthen the work visa safeguards it has deliberately relaxed to make it easier for
companies to hire overseas workers; and
(b) ensure that Australia’s work visa program has robust safeguards in place to protect all workers
and is not being used as a back door avenue to source cheap labour.