||Issue No. 329||20 October 2006|
Sucking the Oranges
Interview: Cowboys and Indians
Industrial: Seven Deadly Sins
Unions: The IT Factor
Politics: Bargain Basement
Environment: An Inconvenient Hoax
Corporate: Two Sides
International: Unfair Dismissals
History: A Stitch in Time
Review: The Wind that Shakes the Barley
Three Question Method
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."
|Search All Issues | Latest Issue | Previous Issues | Print Latest Issue|