The Abbott Government has sold out Australian maritime workers via an underhand move in the Senate that will cost jobs and tax revenue, said unions today.
Just one day after Labor, the Greens and the Palmer United Party teamed up to stop foreign workers being employed on maritime crew visas, Liberal Senator Michaelia Cash has used an obscure legislative instrument to reverse the Senate’s decision.
“This disgraceful move replaces Australian jobs with positions available only to overseas workers with visa conditions that don’t give them the protections Australian workers are entitled to,” said ACTU Secretary Dave Oliver.
Maritime crew visas were never intended for use in the offshore resources industry, said Mr Oliver.
“It’s a loophole being used to exploit workers. It was there to bring in Filipino, Indonesian seafarers not on Australian wages and conditions," he said.
“It means foreign workers can be employed in Australian waters and be paid as little as $1,000 a month.
"It will allow overseas workers to work for up to three years straight in the oil and gas zone without a visa that has Australian labour law as the legal basis underpinning their wages and conditions.”
Mr Oliver said the Abbott Government has put the interests of big business ahead of Australian workers yet again.
“Not only will this underhand move by the Government cost jobs, it will cost millions of dollars in taxation revenue,” he said.
"Seafarers and officers in the offshore sector pay millions of dollars in tax each year but maritime crew visa holders are not required to pay any tax in Australia because of the nature of the visa.
"To force Australian workers into unemployment while at the same time decreasing tax revenues is a ludicrous decision that shows big business is calling the shots for the Abbott Government."