||Issue No. 322||01 September 2006|
Justice, Applied Liberally
Interview: Australia’s Most Wanted
Industrial: The Fox and the Contractor
Unions: Industrial Wasteland
International: Two Bob's Worth
Economics: National Interest
Environment: The Real Dinosaur
History: Only In Spain?
Review: Clerk Off
Deportation for Pay-To-Work Tradesman
The terrified immigrant approached the AMWU which is demanding answers from Immigration Minister, Amanda Vanstone.
The sacked worker went into hiding after meeting AMWU officials in the city, last week.
AMWU official, Jim Reid, said he understood the man had been imported to Australia on a Section 457 visa that Vanstone admits were introduced to hold down Australian wages.
"It's difficult because this man doesn't speak English," Reid said. "I met him with a Chinese woman from our office who translated for him.
"Someone told him to ring our number but he had no idea who he was speaking to. He didn't know if we were a government agency or not.
"It was a big step but he was worried and frightened."
The man said he had paid an immigration agent, in China, $10,000 to obtain a visa but when he arrived in Melbourne his employer told him he owed the company another $10,000.
He was required to work 60 hours a week in a print shop and received $752 a week, gross.
The employer deducted $200 a week to cover his expenses and another $120 a week for rent.
After tax, the man was left with less than $300 a week.
After one year's service, when the employer had extracted his $10,000, the worker was sacked and told he would be deported.
"By our reckoning, in the last year, he has paid out $26,000 to get the job and received less than $15,000 for working 60 hours a week," Reid said.
"It's a disgrace."
Reid said the union had tried to contact DIMIA but had given up after failing to be connected to a human being in its Melbourne office.
He said the federal government needed to come clean on widespread abuse of its Section 457 visas.
"On one hand, we have a man who has been exploited. On the other, we have a system that rewards ruthless employers at the expense of honest ones who play by Australian rules.
"Nobody opposes these migrants, Australia was built on the back of migrants," Reid said. "Our problem is the way they are exploited and the undermining of everybody else's wages and conditions.
"Even when these employers are sprung the government takes no action. There are no penalties for this sort of behaviour and every incentive.
"It's a human rights issue and we are asking the government to address it."
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