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Issue No. 329 20 October 2006  
E D I T O R I A L

Sucking the Oranges
Every three years the Australian union movement comes together for a gathering that is part policy forum, part Jamboree, the ACTU Congress.

F E A T U R E S

Interview: Cowboys and Indians
Finance Sector Union national secretary Paul Schroder is standing between the big banks and a bucket of money.

Industrial: Seven Deadly Sins
Chris Christodoulou gives seven reasons why WorkChoices is bad for business

Unions: The IT Factor
The future of Australian IT looks grim as big companies lead the rush to India and China, writes Jackie Woods.

Politics: Bargain Basement
Simple principles of democracy underpin the ACTU's collective bargaining proposal, insists ACTU Secrteary Greg Combet.

Environment: An Inconvenient Hoax
Al Gore may be warning of climate breakdown, but what hope the truth when he's up against such a well-oiled machine? asks Paul Sheridan

Corporate: Two Sides
Bilateral trade agreements are a good idea – just ask the US multinationals. The rest of us should strongly disagree says Pat Ranald

International: Unfair Dismissals
Nearly 10,000 workers were fired for their trade union activities in 2005, an annual trade union survey shows.

History: A Stitch in Time
Neale Towart takes some lessons from female textile workers while considering the case for recognition ballots.

Review: The Wind that Shakes the Barley
A film charting the turmoil of the Irish war for independence against British occupation during the 1920s might seem an odd choice for top honours at the Cannes Film Festival in 2006.

N E W S

 Bananas in the Mail

 Dragons Slay St George

 Collective Contracts Still Rule

 Boeing Bombs Individual Contracts

 Multis Raid Nest Eggs

 "Guests" Stood Over, AMWU

 Aunty Off the Air

 Ban Ki-Moon, Koreans Warn

 Super Shafting at Telstra

 Qantas IT calls Bangalore home

 Three Question Method

 AWAs: Kids Stuff

C O L U M N S

Parliament
The Westie Wing
Ian West takes a walk around the backyard with the Prime Minister…

The Soapbox
Rise Up
Hugo Chavez's explosive address to the United Nations

Culture
The Fear Factor
A new analysis of the history of fear takes us from the war on terror all the way to the modern workplace.

L E T T E R S
 Thanks Betina
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News

Three Question Method


Unions NSW wants minimum standards introduced to prevent the wholesale abuse of federal government’s Section 457 visas.

Secretary, John Robertson, made the call as the federal government conceded it checked just 18 percent of employers using its scheme.

Despite enormous growth in the program, monitoring has falled in the last three years, according to the Immigration Department.

It's latest annual reports says just over 28 percent of Section 457 employers were checked in 2004 but that figure fell to 18 percent, last year.

Over the same period, the department records, people entering Australia on 457 visas leapt from 28,000 to 40,000.

Robertson says the carte blanche approach to dishing out visas has to stop and employers should be required to show they want guest labour to meet a skills shortage, rather than to undercut Australian standards.

"The problem isn't the visas, themselves," he told Unions NSW delegates. "It is their exploitation and the lack of any mechanism to prevent that."

Robertson is proposing a three-question hurdle that employers should have to jump before they can import guest workers.

He says, employers should be asked:

- have you made anyone redundant in the past 12 months and offered them their positions back on the same terms and conditions?

- are you offering immigrants market rates for the jobs they will be undertaking?

- what is your training and skills record with young Australians

The answers to those questions, supported by evidence, he says, will make it clear what camp prospective sponsors fall into.

Unions have unmasked a string of bodgey operators ripping off imported workers, especially from Asia and Africa.

They have alerted the Department, and federal government, to common rorts, including charging exorbitant rents, interest rates, and up-front fees of up to $27,000 to secure visas.

All of those practices all theoretically illegal but there are no sanctions on offenders under the current regime.

They have also produced written contracts that make joining a trade union a deportable offence.

DIMA estimates another 70,000 people will come to Australian uon 457 visas this year.

"The federal government is using these visas to drive down Australian wages," Robertson says. "WorkChoices is allowing them to do it.

"We have hundreds of employers crying out to import workers, well, the very first question they should have to answer is if they offered market rates to Australians.

"It's too easy to offer a ridiculous wage and then turn around and say they can't get anyone to do the job."


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