Previously we looked at a few companies who abused the scheme by underpaying workers and keeping them in squalid boarding houses and also wondered if the Visa 457 programs could undermine Australian rates and conditions.
But now with Gold Coast Hospital’s Dr Mohamed Haneef in jail awaiting trial for his alleged connections to London bombers, many new questions are being asked of the Visa 457 scheme.
Workplace Relations Minister, Joe Hockey told the Australian we shouldn’t over-react to the latest controversy and said the Visa 457 scheme is working well despite recent events:
“I don’t think that we want to be in a position where, because of one or two bad eggs, the entire program was thrown out and we’ve got no nurses and doctors and essential service providers in a whole range of industries across Australia.”
Three Visa 457 guest workers died on the workplace in separate incidents in the month of June. CFMEU boss, John Sutton blames the Visa 457 program for the deaths, telling The Herald Sun:
“This notorious 457 program is out of control. How many more workers must die before the scheme is properly regulated?”
“Safety standards for many of these workers are clearly appalling and the government has a responsibility to take tough action to ensure that more lives are not lost.”
Also from 1 July 2007, employers must ensure that any workers operating under 457 visas can prove they have English language skills equivalent to an average band score of 4.5 in an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test.
In every case, sponsors must ensure that overseas workers they employ have sufficient English language skills to complete the tasks of the occupation and to meet their obligations under occupational health and safety and workplace relations laws.
Applicants will be exempt from these new requirements if: