||Issue No. 289||11 November 2005|
The Great Repression
Interview: Public Defender
Legal: Craig's Story
Unions: Wrong Way, Go Back
Politics: Queue Jumping
History: Iron Heel
Economics: Waging War
International: Under Pressure
Poetry: Billy Negotiates An AWA
Review: A Pertinent Proposition
The Locker Room
We're Just Serfin'
To the Shredder
Feds Authorise Invasion
Queensland state secretary, Andrew Dettmer, levelled the charge in response to Drake Personnel's announcement that it intends using short-term visas to flood the market with 3500 “trades people”.
The first 250 Filipinos, including welders, are being directed to jobs in Queensland and WA.
Dettmer said his members would welcome "Filipinos or anyone else" who came to Australia with a commitment to the country, and the right to going rates and conditions.
Dettmer said the federal government's continued support for fixed-term appointments that undercut Australian rates was "racist and hypocritical".
He highlighted the Prime Minister's rejection of Polynesian workers, at last month's South Pacific Forum, on the grounds that Australia only wanted people with a long-term commitments to the country.
"There is no doubt that we have short term skill shortages that need to be addressed. In those situations our position is the same as the stated position of John Howard. The only difference, is that we mean it," Dettmer said.
"These people are being used to deny opportunities to semi-skilled and unskilled Australians, and to drive down the wages of our skilled people.
"Howard highlights our unemployment figures but they are bodgey and he knows they are bodgey. If Australia used the same methodology as the European Union we would have the same jobless rate as Germany with all its dislocation after unification.
"The unemployment rate among semi-skilled and unskilled Australians is horrendous and it is horrendous because big business, supported by this government, refuses to give them opportunities."
Dettmer highlighted the situation of Ipswich-based, Bradken, which imported Filipinos on fixed contracts after claiming it couldn't attract local people.
The reason, for that, Dettmer said was that Bradken locked out AMWU members for three weeks to hold trades rates below $20 an hour while the going rate in Brisbane is between $23 and $24 an hour.
"It brought these people on the cheap, rather than train people from our community, then found they weren't genuine trades people at all.
"But, it was prepared to train them on the job, so it could hold down the wage rate.
"That's what this government's law and immigration policies are all about, exploiting guest workers as a way of holding back Australians."
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