||Issue No. 295||17 February 2006|
Interview: Court's in Session
Industrial: Whose Choices?
Politics: Peter's Principles
Environment: TINA or Greener?
History: Its Not Just Handshakes and Aprons
International: US Locks out Jose' Bove
Education: No AWA - No Job
Culture: Jesus was a Long-Grass Man
Review: Charlie the Serf
The Locker Room
The Black GST
Local Jockey Odds Shorten
Last year more than a quarter of apprentice jockeys in NSW were young Asian riders shipped in under an arrangement with a Gold Coast-based training centre, according to the Australian Jockeys Association.
AJA chief executive Paul Innes says the shift away from local apprentices is an ongoing issue that is cutting back scope for locals and creating serious safety concerns on the track.
Last year, 20 of the 75 jockey apprentices were from Asia, predominantly from Japan. They enter Australia on work visas, paying up to $30,000 to be trained at TrainTech on the Gold Coast. They are then indentured to local trainers, often for a full four-year period.
Innes says while the AJA has no problem with the Asian riders, the system lacks transparency, with questions about why the imports are being taken on at the expense of locals.
He also says there are concerns that the young riders lack language skills, an essential element to riding safely in a tight pack.
"We have had discussions with Australian Racing Board tand expressed our conceens about the future of the industry.
"We need to have a transparent process around training, regulating and assessing apprentice riders.
Further concerns were raised last week when Racing Victoria announced it was importing a group of Turkish apprentices to ease what it described as a 'skills shortage'.
Innes rejects the idea there is a skills crisis in racing; just that young Australians are not being given the opportunity to pursue a career in racing.
Dough! More Jobs Go
The jockeys case follows hot on the heels of revelations that bakery chain brumbies was planning to import Vietnamese bakers into the country on guest worker visas.
Commenting on those revelation, which the employer said was explicitly to get around unions, ACTU president Sharan Burrow put the following questions to the Howard government.
* How many temporary worker or business visas are being issued by the Government?
* What steps have employers taken to demonstrate that local workers are not available?
* What wages and employment conditions are used to assess whether overseas workers are not being exploited and are not undermining the pay and entitlements of local workers?
* What checks are the Government making about the qualifications of the sponsored workers?
* What access do temporary workers have to independent help from unions and other agencies to ensure they are being properly paid, have the appropriate qualifications and are aware of the relevant health and safety requirements?
* Who is overseeing the program and ensuring abuses do not occur?
Other recent cases that have involved either the abuse of foreign workers or Australians being denied job opportunities, include:
* The Immigration Department is currently investigating allegations that US Vice President Dick Chaney's former company Halliburton imported Indonesian workers to work 12 hour shifts for 80 days without a break digging ditches at its gas operations in the South Australian desert.
* Foreign workers being treated like slaves in well-known Canberra restaurants. The workers were recruited from the Philippines and 'sold' to their employers for $6000 to $8000. One of the workers said she was underpaid, worked 'dangerously excessive workloads' and her employer refused to give her medical treatment when she suffered third-degree burns.
* Unions have also raised concerns about the case of 34 Croatian and Slovenian workers who have been issued with temporary labour visas to build a paint shop at Holden's plant at Elizabeth, SA - an area which has high unemployment
These overseas worker abuses highlight the ugly side of the Howard Government's deregulated job market," Burrow says.
"The Prime Minister needs to intervene immediately to first make sure that employers look to fill these jobs with Australians. He then needs to make sure any temporary worker is paid decent wages and conditions."
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