||Issue No. 328||13 October 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
The Unpromised Land
Unionist Targeted for Deportation
The revelation confirms Canberra has been green-lighting the importation of guest workers on contracts that breach Australian law and human rights conventions.
Workers Online has sighted a contract, signed by a guest worker sacked after breaking both writst at work, that makes union membership a deportable offence.
It backs up the claims of numerous ripped off immigrant workers that they were forbidden from joining a union as a condition of entry to Australia.
Workers Online first revealed the development, in March 2003, when South African tradesmen were adamant they had been barred from union membership by agents that arranged their visas.
They complained after being farmed out to sites around WA by a labour hire company, associated with the WA Chamber of Commerce and Industry, where some earned less than a third the rates of Australians working alongside them.
Confirming the union ban, at the time, spokesman Ronald Oliveira, likened their situation to "slavery".
Now, hard evidence is available, that agents in the Philippines and China are also forcing guest workers to sign agreements that undercut their human rights.
"Under no circumstances shall the employee participate in riots, strikes, political, union or radical religious activities," reads a clause in the contract Fu Zhi Hong signed with Shanghai Overseas Employment Service.
Article 6 of the document, states Fu Zhi Hong will be in "breach of contract" if he organises or incites political activities "such as strikes".
The same contract obliges the worker to pay the agent approx $A27,000 for its services, and prescribes a minimum annual income of $38,000, including overtime, for his four years in Australia.
The Sydney Morning Herald, this week, reported that another contract, signed by a Filipino, nominated "insubordination" and "engaging in trade union activities" as grounds for dismissal.
Unions have renewed their calls for tens of thousands of workers, imported on Section 457 visas, to be granted Australian rights, conditions and pay.
"The treatment of these people is a national disgrace," AMWU official, Jim Reid, said. "They are being ruthlessly exploited and the government does nothing about it.
"By doing nothing, it is giving license to the worst employers in Australia. "
Immigration Minister, Amanda Vanstone, told the West Australian newspaper, earlier this year, that Section 457 visas were being used to hold down wage rates.
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