||Issue No. 326||29 September 2006|
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
Sydney the New Mumbai
After accusing critics of the section 457 scheme of xenophobia, Vanstone is posed to approve an application by American Express to ship in workers for its Sydney call centre, claiming it can't find Aussies to do the work.
The NSW government and unions are opposing the plan, which would see the workers paid under the legal minimum of $41,000, arguing that if the wages were decent, locals would do the job.
The $41,000 minimum has been the centrepiece of Vanstone's defence of the scheme, claiming it e3nsures that foreign workers are not exploited.
But NSW industrial relations minister John Della Bosca says businesses who train their staff and pay Australians Australian rates are also being disadvantaged.
"Local firms can't compete with companies paying well under market rates," Della Bosca says. "And Australians can be forced into signing substandard agreements because they know they will be replaced by someone on a 457 visa if they don't."
The case has put the spotlight back on the assault on Australian wages and conditions in the fiancé industry, with the 'off shoring' of some jobs and the 'on shoring of others.
Finance workers have called on the Prime Minister to personally convene an industry wide forum on the future of the finance industry.
"In one corner we have banks like Westpac looking at sending work off-shore to drive wages down - and now we have Amex wanting to bring foreign workers in under the bogus guise of the skills shortage," FSU antional; secretary Paul Schroder says.
"The reality is there are no shortage of Japanese speaking people who would take on a secure job, provided it delivered a decent wage."
"The finance industry is at a crisis point and more than 100,000 secure Australian jobs could be lost over the next five years if there is no national leadership on the industry.
"If the government just sits back and allows jobs to be sent off-shore and cheap foreign labour to come on shore there will be very few viable careers left in the industry.
The FSU has written to the Prime Minister seeking his personal intervention to convene an industry forum, as well as support for consume protection ''right to know' laws that would require banks to inform customers when personal information is sent offshore.
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