TWU MEDIA RELEASE, 19 April 2017

The Transport Workers’ Union is cautiously welcoming the Government’s stricter rules on the migrant labour program.

Assistant National Secretary Michael Kaine said the TWU was concerned the announcement was simply a rebranding exercise but added if the policy shift ensures better and real protections for all workers, then the union would welcome the move.

“The TWU has never been an opponent of appropriate skilled migration but the visa rorts have allowed companies to undermine acceptable conditions and wages by exploiting workers from overseas,” Kaine said.

A recent example of a company exploiting the broken system, was when trucking company Northline put in an application for 457 forklift drivers. These jobs were not properly advertised; therefore, a skills deficit could not truly be established as per the company’s claim.

“It was simply a rort to get cheap labour and exploit vulnerable workers,” he said.

Meanwhile, last year Sydney was brought to a standstill when a driver on a 457 was unable to reverse a B-Double truck out of the M5 Tunnel. This raised serious questions at the time, as truck drivers were not on the 457 list of occupations and showed there was a deficit in proper training for migrant workers.

“Last year’s M5 incident raises questions about the level of scrutiny of the recently scrapped program, we can only hope the new visa sub-classes will have a better level of oversight,” Kaine said.

“The union will continue to fight to ensure the Government is properly overseeing visa programs to stop transport companies from engaging in a race-to-the-bottom.”

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