Figures released to the Transport Workers Union under FOI show a spike in abuse of the 457-visa system, with more than one in five workers not being paid the correct salary or doing the job they were brought to Australia for.
TWU MEDIA RELEASE, 4 December 2014
Statistics showing inspections carried out by the Fair Work Ombudsman for the months July, August and September show there were 107 breaches of salary and occupation rules out of 504 premises visited – this represents over 20% of employers audited. By contrast the figures for September 2013 to June 2014 show 16% breaches.
A further 20% of employers audited failed to provide information demanded by inspectors or were not able to be located by inspectors. The Transport Workers Union is demanding the Department of Immigration explain why these employers were not prosecuted or struck off from bringing in overseas workers under the 457 visa scheme.
Despite the hundreds of concerns raised by the Fair Work Ombudsman inspectors in the last year only 28 employers were issued with infringement notices during 2013/2014. No employers were penalised in federal magistrates court. Since 2011 only one employer has been penalised in court over 457-visa infringement.
National Secretary of the Transport Workers’ Union, Tony Sheldon said:
“These figures contradict the Abbott Government claim that ‘no evidence’ exist to back up the widespread rorting claims of the program made by the previous Labor government.
“We’re not against skilled migration, we're against the abuse of the system that exploits migrant workers, hurts the entire Australian workforce by driving down wages and conditions and undercuts the businesses that play by the rules.”
There are specific concerns over abuses of the 457-visa system in road transport:
- Each year, hundreds of people are tragically killed in fatal truck crashes on our roads and thousands more are injured, devastating families and communities right around the country;
- Road transport workers are 15 times more likely to be killed at work than any other worker and any expansion of the 457 programme into the industry will only lead to increasing this frightful statistic.
- A recent report form Monash University Accident Research Centre showed performance-based compensation methods may lead to work practices that exacerbate driving behaviour because of fatigue. This reinforces what the National Transport Commission report found, that overwhelmingly evidence indicated commercial practices play a direct role in causing hazardous practices in road transport.
Cases of exploitation revealed in the FOI documents include:
- An overseas welder on $120,000 but only paying the individual $41,253;
- An overseas electronic engineering technician undertaking cleaning duties;
- Inspectors concluded they had “no prima facie concerns” with a sponsor in Queensland employing an overseas truck driver. This is despite workers only being allowed to fill positions in certain eligible skilled occupations, of which truck driver isn’t one of them.
Facts and Figures:
- At 30 June 2014 there were a total of 195,071 subclass 457 visa holders in Australia;
- At 30 June 2014 there were 40 inspectors across Australia;
- At 30 June 2014 more than 300 FWO inspectors were appointed under this framework;
- At 30 June 2014 35,285 active sponsors mean any current or former approved sponsor who employed a subclass 457 visa holder.
In September 2014 at the National Press Club address Scott Morrison said: “I will be as tough on people who seek to rort the system in the workplace as I am on the borders. And I mean it.”
Reference: FOI document released to the TWU