||Issue No. 315||14 July 2006|
Give Truth A Chance
Interview: The Month Of Living Dangerously
Unions: Staying Mum
Economics: Precious Metals
Industrial: The Cold 100
History: The Vinegar Hill Mob
Legal: Free Agents
Politics: Under The Influence
International: How Swede It Was
Review: Keating's Men Slam Dance on Howard
The Locker Room
Howard vs World
Tough as ABC
Vanstone Mum on Rorts
A five-month DIMA investigation into T&R Pastoral's use of 137 Asian meatworkers has disappeared down a bureaucratic back alley with consultants confirming its completetion but departmental officials denying it.
"We believe the report will back up what we've been saying all along - these people are not working within the terms of their visas," South Australian Meatworkers Union secretary, Graham Smith, told Workers Online.
"We are calling on the Minister to release the document."
DIMA was pressured into commissioning a report on T&R Pastoral's use of controversial 457 visas after the Meatworkers Union alleged they were being used to hold down local wages.
According to the union, the company employs immigrants as "skilled" workers but uses them to do "unskilled" labour that attracts the highest pay rates.
The meat industry recognises only one "skilled" occupation - slaughterman - but Smith says imported workers are predominantly engaged in boning and slicing.
"These are the high paid jobs in a meatworks," he explains. "And they are being denied to local workers.
"The upshot is the incentive to stay is being removed and the labour shortage, visas are supposed to address, is actually being made worse."
Smith says AWAs, imposed by meat companies, pay labourers around $600 a week but boners and slicers get closer to $1000.
DIMA agreed to investigate the claims and commissioned industry training organisation, MINTRAC, to prepare a report.
MINTRAC contracted the job to an independent assessor who spent five months investigating T&R's Murray Bridge operation.
Training Council chief executive, Jenny Kroonstuiver, told the Australian newspaper the report had been completed and handed to DIMA "several weeks ago".
But Vanstone's office says the "final" report has not been received.
"We just think they should come clean," Smith says.
"The fact is these people are supposed to be trade-equivalent slaughtermen, that's what their visas say. They are not working as slaughtermen, we know that and now DlIMA knows it too.
"The real question is - what is it going to do about it?"
Meanwhile, 70 Australian workers have been sacked from Conroy's Adelaide boning plant as a condition of its sale to T&R Pastoral.
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