Unions welcome the Senate Inquiry into the growing use and reported abuse of temporary work visas, including 457, working holiday and student visas.
The inquiry comes after lobbying by the ACTU, resource, health and service sector unions, which was supported by migrant community organisations, to ensure Australia’s temporary visa system is transparent, regulated and puts local jobs and training first.
The Senate Inquiry will investigate a wide range of issues including:
- The extent of exploitation and mistreatment of temporary work visa holders
- The impact of the temporary visa program on employment opportunities for Australians
- The impact of the temporary visa program on skills and training development in Australia
- The role and effect of English language requirements in work visa programs
Australian Unions have genuine concerns that foreign workers on temporary visas are being exploited and that unscrupulous employers are rorting the scheme at the expense of Australian jobs.
Unions support multiculturalism and permanent skilled migration over the use of temporary migration schemes.
- There are around 1.1 million people in Australia on a range of temporary work visas
- The majority of 457 visa applications are exempt from labour market testing
- Up to 350,000 qualified Australians are searching for work in the same occupational groups where employers use the most 457 visa workers
- Since the 457 visa program came into place, there have been 12 reported deaths of 457 visa workers – all but one of these deaths occurred when lower English language standards were in place prior to 2009
ACTU President Ged Kearney said: “The Senate Inquiry is a positive step towards ensuring foreign workers are not being exploited and that employers are genuinely trying to hire Australian workers first.
“With unemployment sitting above 6 per cent and youth unemployment at around 14 per cent, the government should be strengthening the rules for employers to hire local workers and investing in skills and training.
“Across the country we are seeing employers cutting apprentice numbers and graduate nurse positions as well as their investment in training, then complaining they are unable to find skilled workers as a justification for bringing in workers on 457 visas.
“Australia’s migration program should not be at the beck and call of big business.”