More and more Australian nurses and midwives will be left without jobs if the Abbott Government loosens restrictions for overseas workers, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) has warned.
The Australian newspaper reported today that a range of foreign workers, including nurses, will be able to be employed on salaries of up to 10 per cent below standard rates for 457 visa employees.
Assistant Federal Secretary, Annie Butler, said the ANMF was extremely concerned that, at a time when up to 3000 nursing and midwifery graduates are struggling to find jobs, the recruitment of cheaper foreign workers will simply make this worse.
“As Australia’s largest health union, the ANMF does not support the use of temporary migrant labour at the expense of Australian nursing and midwifery graduates who are not only fully qualified but are ready, willing and able to start work,” Ms Butler said today.
“If the Government makes it easier for employers to hire overseas workers on cheaper wages, we will see the creation of an underclass of workers receiving less for doing the same work.
“At the same time locally educated nursing and midwifery graduates will simply be forced to walk away from their professions. If graduates walk away from nursing and midwifery, Australia will suffer an entire lost generation of highly-educated health professionals, unable to replace the current generation of nurses and midwives set to retire over the next 20 years.
“While the ANMF appreciates that geographic movement occurs among nurses and midwives, we maintain that employers should only be permitted to use temporary overseas workers for genuine critical skills shortages and only when all attempts have been made to employ Australian nurses and midwives first.”
Ms Butler said the ANMF was very concerned that substandard wages for overseas nurses and midwives will increase exploitation by employers. These changes will also make it more difficult for overseas workers to afford essential services for themselves and their families such as health care and education.