The Visa 457 scheme is growing rapidly but…
In April last year we had a good look at the practicalities of the federal government’s rapidly growing guest worker visa program (Visa 457s).
Then in October we asked whether the program, potentially great for regional business addressing skills shortage, could undermine Australian rates & conditions.
Well, the visa program hit the news last week when the ABC’s The World Today reported that a Perth company, Kentwood Industries was paying a Chinese carpenter on a Visa 457 about $3 an hour and that he was sacked when he asked for better wages.
The minimum wage for a skilled worker on a Visa 457 is about $47,000.
The Age also reported that a Melbourne printer had charged their Visa 457 workers “recruitment fees” to the tune of $5000 and a one off fee of $15,000 just to keep their jobs!
The company was also found to be charging their guest workers thousands of dollars in bogus fees including rent, migration agent fees and Medibank fees.
These workers recently signed a contract to work 47.5 hours a week for $46,000 a year – the going rate for a local being about $85,000 for a 38-hour week.
In other developments on the Visa 457 scheme, the CFMEU threatened to “name and shame” companies abusing the system, and also called on the program to be suspended in the Northern Territory where they believed abuse is rampant.
Interestingly, CFMEU national secretary, Dave Noonan also told the ABC that the visas are also damaging local economies because almost all the money earned by Chinese workers is sent back to their home country.
Earlier in the month the new Immigration Minister announced fines for businesses abusing the Visa 457 scheme and rewards for those who have used it without incident.
But perhaps the fines won’t be enough. Who’s to police it?
In the October posting we quoted Immigration and labour market analyst, Bob Kinnard who told New Matilda asking just that – that the scheme needed tighter controls like data matching to prevent unscrupulous employers exploiting it.
Where is it all going?