TWU MEDIA RELEASE, 29 June 2016
The Transport Workers Union has sounded the alarm on workplace visa rorts in the Australian road transport industry, which are endangering the public by creating a class of untrained drivers working well below industry standards.
“The rorting of the visa system uncovered in the national media is a major threat to Australian jobs,” said TWU Assistant National Secretary, Michael Kaine. “Sadly it is highly prevalent in the transport industry, where dodgy employers often exploit migrant workers who are simply seeking a chance at a better life.
“This downward spiral leaves local workers with the impossible choice of accepting lower wages and conditions, or losing work. This isn’t fair to local workers and it’s not fair for migrant workers who are often powerless to demand a fair go.”
Mr Kaine’s comments come as a joint Fairfax/ABC investigation revealed widespread rorting of the visa system by crime syndicates and people smugglers, allegedly with the help of corrupt immigration officers.
Earlier this year Sydney’s M5 tunnel was blocked when two undertrained and inexperienced truck drivers on temporary visas were unable to reverse or unhitch the trailer on their truck.
“While the government was gloating over disbanding the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal it was the community suffering as truck drivers were forced to relentlessly undercut one another in the bidding war for work,” Mr Kaine said.
“Some in the industry haven’t seen a pay increase in decades, others exploit the desperation and naivety of migrant workers to pay meagre wages for work that should be done at much higher rates.
“The Tribunal was working to fix this but now it’s gone that’s one less thing to stop the dangerous undercutting that is endemic within the industry.”
Mr Kaine said the TWU had previously highlighted widespread rorting of the 457-visa program. Information obtained under FOI showed audits carried out by the Fair Work Ombudsman found one in five employers are not paying workers on 457-visas the correct salary or providing them with the type of job stipulated within their visa application.
Fairfax/ABC reported the referral of an unprecedented 132 cases of alleged corruption among immigration officers to the federal law enforcement watchdog over the last year.