||Issue No. 205||28 November 2003|
Australia Deserves Better
Interview: Union for the Dispossessed
Unions: Joel's Law
National Focus: Spring Carnival
Bad Boss: Fina and Fiends
Industrial: The Price of War
Economics: Who's Got What
History: Containing Discontent
Review: An Honourable Wally
Poetry: The Colours of Discontent
A Tale Of Three Cities
Labour Hire Boosts Tech Wreck
The Immigration Department blew the whistle on IT "visa rorting" when it announced its intention to apply regulations that have lain dormant since 1997, provoking the IT Workers Alliance to warn Aussie job seekers not to get their hopes too high.
Spokesman Michael Gadiel drew attention to published comments from a labour hire spokesman who said DIMIA was not trying to affect "sponsorship by recruiment companies".
"Let's wait and see what DIMIA actually does," Gadiel said. "These regulations have been around for six years but, until now, there has been no suggestion that they would be enforced.
"Instead, the Federal Government has taken a two-pronged approach to the efforts of IT workers to organise themselves. They have encouraged companies to outsource IT functions to India and allowed the wholesale abuse of temporary visas to undermine Australian wages and conditions.
"It has been a covert campaign and the results are obvious. A recent survey by a computing organisation revealed 11.9 percent unemployment amongst Australian IT workers, almost twice the national average.
"The move to enforce the regulation should mean 2000 more jobs but we will have to wait and see."
IT policy, to this point, has run counter to accepted principals of immigration economics.
Instead of using immigration as a way to overcome shortfalls in domestic skills, body hire companies have been encouraged to scour the world for immigrants prepared to take up positions at significantly lower than market rates.
The labour hire outfits, rather than the direct employers, got visas of up to four years duration from DIMIA, then placed the overseas workers with Australian companies.
Countries like Ireland, Britain and the US specifically forbid this practice because they are aware of the scope for abuse by labour hire companies, paid by the body rather than the skilled vacancy filled.
Several Sydney-based IT workers have told Workers Online they have worked alongside "dozens" of Indian immigrant colleagues who had no more than "basic" skills widely available here.
There have also been reports that labour hire companies boost below-standard wages for immigrants by deducting considerably less tax than would be paid by Australian counterparts in an apparent understanding with the ATO.
"Someone has made a significant decision that, not only can labour hire firms sponsor temporary workers in defiance of stated policy, but there will also be formal agreements between DIMIA and labour hire companies to allow them to do it bulk," Gadiel said.
"We are entitled to know - who and why?"
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