||Issue No. 332||10 November 2006|
Affairs of State
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
Construction Lives Going Cheap
Thirteen South Koreans vacated digs at the Lake Bolac caravan park after WorkCover inspectors shut the grain silo job in a paddock, 100km west of Ballarat.
Inspectors found unsafe wiring, dangerous work being done without required licenses, faulty lifting gear, and that the Koreans hadn't been gone through mandatory induction programs.
Stunned CFMEU officials have put in a formal request for paperwork confirming the Koreans' visa status.
"According to WorkCover they were breaching just about safety regulation in the book," CFMEU secretary, Martin Kingham, said.
"Someone must have dobbed them in to WorkCover, otherwise no one would have known about it until the thing fell down.
"This is what happens when governments encourage people to undercut wages and safety standards."
Workers Online understands the Korean company building the grain silo halved the most competitive Australian quote for the job.
The scramble for a cheap rate started after a mini tornado ripped through the district, last year, taking the old grain solo with it.
The farmers co-op that operates the facility had under-insured to such an extent that it couldn't meet any Australian price for delivering a replacement.
Instead, apparently, it went on the internet and found a Korean company that could slice 50 percent off the price by using workers on 457 visas.
The Lake Bolac closure further embarrasses a federal government that uses 457 visas, in conjunction with WorkChoices, to drive down wages and conditions.
Only last week, another 457 operator, Hunan Industrial Equipment, had to back pay Chinese construction workers in western Sydney more than $650,000 in underpayments.
It was pinged after work on an ABC Tissues press was halted when WorkCover hit the site with a staggering 40 separate health and safety notices.
In the absence of action by any federal government agency, the AMWU forced an inquiry with claims of massive underpayments and workers comp rip-offs.
The Office of Workplace Services confirmed the AMWU allegations in a press release, last week.
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