|Issue No 87||10 March 2001|
Ruddock Faces Legal Action Over Working Visas
Immigration Minister Phillip Ruddock will face legal action if the Indian temple masons do not recover the money they were underpaid from their employer.
The NSW Labor Council has received legal advice that the Minister for Immigration Phillip Ruddock may have breached his 'duty of care' to the workers by failing to audit their employment conditions to ensure they complied with Australian labour law.
The Senior Counsel's advice states that the Department of Immigration's failure to monitor or audit the stonemasons over a three and a half year period represented "a clear breach of the Minister's duty".
This opens the way for common law proceedings by the workers against the Commonwealth claiming damages as a consequence of such breach of the Minister's duty of car.
"This case would set an important principle that the government has a responsibility to workers who are granted temporary working visas," Costa says.
"We welcome workers into Australia, but we do not accept that they should be exploited, nor that the local workforce should be undercut on wages or conditions."
The eight workers, who were being paid just $45 in the hand per month, today lodged back-pay claims in the Magistrate's Court.
They were joined by hundreds of building workers rallying outside Minister Ruddock's offices in Sydney.
Opposition leader Kim Beazley met with unionists at the offices offering his support for basic employment rights for guest workers.
As well as facing legal action, Ruddock is under pressure to guarantee the eight remain in Australia while their claims are determined.
They were today told by the Department of Immigration that they would need to reapply for working visas if they ceased working for their current employer.
One of the workers has less than a week to reapply for his visa, while the other seven have visas expiring in June.
Costa says Minister Ruddock must guarantee that the workers are not punished for bringing the illegal payments to light.
"These workers have shown considerable courage in standing up for the rights of all guest workers.
"It is outrageous - and bordering on intimidation - to hand them complex legal documentation while they are in the center of this dispute.
Interview: Working Woman
Cheryl Kernot on women in the workplace, Labor's male culture and where Meg went wrong.
Activists: Honouring Our Heroes
Anna Stewart changed the lives of Australian working families by helping women achieve balance between the competing demands of work and family.
Women: The Future is Female
Julia Gillard outlines the campaign to increase female representation within the Australian Labor Party.
Unions: Sweatshops � Beyond 2001
FairWear convenor Debbie Carstens looks over a unique partnership between churches and unions to end exploitation in the textile industry.
Politics: The Battle for Bennelong
Many trade unionists are working to kick John Howard out of office. But only one woman has a chance of kicking him out of his own seat. Meet Nicole Campbell.
International: Border Skirmishes
Alana Kerr travelled to Thailand to observe first hand the battle to organise Burmese women workers in exile.
History: Inside the Ladies Lounge
The McDonald sisters run Trades Hall, and have for over half a century. The building can�t speak about what has gone on in that time, but Lorna and Elaine probably know it all.
Satire: Taliban to Put One Nation Last
The Parliamentary fate of Pauline Hanson�s One Nation party was further obscured today as key fellow right-wing extremists moved to distance themselves from the controversial Queensland politician and the group she founded and leads.
Review: Seven Steps to Slavation
Jenny Macklin details the seven barriers that stand between women and a better working life.
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Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005