||Issue No. 331||03 November 2006|
From Green House to Glass House
Interview: Common Ground
Industrial: A Low Act
Unions: The Number of the Least
Politics: The Smoking Gun
Economics: Microcredit, Compulsory Superannuation and Inequality
Environment: Low Voltage
History: The Art of Social Justice
Review: Work’s Unhealthy Appetite
Culture: A Forgotten Poet
Win, Win for Filipinos
The three men faced deportation, under federal government guest labour rules, after they blew the whistle on exploitation at labour hire company, Dartbridge Engineering, and joined a union.
The trio made headlines when they told Australians they were getting just $27,000 a year all-in for 55-hour weeks as skilled welders, and were being fleeced up to $1400 a week for bunk accommodation in a standard three-bedroom suburban house.
As the men were explained their circumstances on national television, they started fielding calls from distressed wives in the Philippines warning them they would be sacked.
The following day, Dartbridge sacked the trio.
Federal 457 visas tie "guest workers" to sponsoring employers. If they lose that sponsorship, for whatever reason, they are deported.
Unions have been warning the federal government about the unfairness of that system, since two South African chefs were booted out of the country after filing six-figure wage claims against a Manly eatery, back in 2002.
The AMWU has been using its contacts in the Brisbane engineering sector to try to prevent that fate befalling the Filipinos.
Today, relieved Queensland branch official Danny Dougherty confirmed all three had been taken on by another company on award conditions.
"They've all got jobs as first class welders," Dougherty said. "They start next week and whatever they earn will go to them and their families.
"On the basic award, they'll get at least $200 a week more than they were receiving at Dartbridge. On top, they'll get penalty rates, shift loadings, annual leave, sick leave and tool allowance - the same as everybody else.
"We're very pleased for these guys because they had the guts to stand up and expose the rorts that this system encourages.
"Australians should ask themselves if they are happy with a system that exploits workers from Third World countries to drive down the wages and conditions of everybody."
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