||Issue No. 299||17 March 2006|
For Queen and Country
Interview: Organising In Cyberspace
Industrial: How Low Is Low
Industrial: Cloak and Dagger
Unions: Bad Medicine
History: Right Turn, Clyde
Economics: Long Division
International: Union Proud
Politics: Howard’s Sick Joke
Indigenous: The year of living dangerously
Review: Lights, Camera, Strike!
Culture: News Front
The Locker Room
Visa Boss Restrained
“He said he was going to smash my 'maggot head' and kill me,” said worried union organiser David Bibo.
"He's demonstrated he's a volatile individual in the past."
The alleged threats followed reports that a hospitality worker had been kidnapped after complaining to the Department of Immigration about guest workers being abused by Canberra employers.
Bibo backed claims by ACT Senator Kate Lundy that Margarito "Gary" Sorrosa had complained to the Immigration Department about the abuse, contradicting the federal department's assertion that it had no knowledge of such incidents.
Despite Immigration Department claims that Sorrosa never spoke to it, a witness who has been in the Canberra hospitality industry for years, supports Sarrosa's version, even naming the Immigration official he spoke to.
Sorrosa alleges, three days after making his complaint to Immigration in October last year, five men arrived at his house, forced him into a car and drove him to Sydney International Airport.
On the way, they were stopped by NSW police near Mittagong because the driver was speeding. Sorrosa told the police he had been abducted and one of the officers reportedly drew his gun before handcuffing one of the men.
ACT Labor Senator Kate Lundy understands the matter was referred to Australian Federal Police and has asked for a briefing from AFP Commissioner Mick Keelty.
ACTU president Sharan Burrow called for an immediate inquiry into the skilled migrant visa program.
Department of Immigration figures released this week show 1000 people a week arriving in Western Australia alone on temporary working visas, which unions claim is creating a slave trade that will lower wages and standards.
An Immigration Department spokesman rejected the suggestion, saying the program was professionally and competently run.
Immigration expert Bob Kinnaird says some of the skilled migrants, most of whom were tradesmen, accepted very low pay in the hope of being sponsored by their employer for permanent residency when their four-year visa expired.
He also warned that authorities, who are desperate to help fill the skills shortage, sometimes issued the subclass visas, known as 457 visas, to poorly qualified tradesmen.
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