Reports of widespread fraud in the 457 visa scheme reinforces concerns unions have about abuse of the scheme.
“Unions have always had concerns that employers were abusing the 457 visa program to bring in cheaper labour from overseas,” said ACTU Secretary Dave Oliver.
“Now we have reports that the 457 visas scheme is the subject of widespread fraud and there are diminishing resources for the Department to police it.”
“Unemployment hit a 12 year high yesterday and youth unemployment is in double digits, yet there is no requirement for employers to invest in training so they are going overseas to fill those jobs.”
The number of workers on 457 visas has increased by 18.6%, from 91,050 people in 2012 to 107,970 in 2013.
“So while unemployment is rising we have had almost 17,000 more overseas workers brought in on 457 visas,” said Mr Oliver.
Unions have always maintained that employers must show they have tested the labour market locally before looking for workers overseas, while employers who do recruit workers on 457 visas must also invest in training local workers as well.
“Any workers brought in to Australia on 457 visas should also be paid under the same conditions as Australian workers,” said Mr Oliver.
This week, the ACTU convened a community forum to examine issues around 457 visas, which included members of the Indian and Filipino communities as well as community groups that support migrant workers.
“There are genuine concerns about the exploitation of foreign workers being brought to Australia on 457 visas.
“Unions support multiculturalism and permanent skilled migration over the use of temporary migration schemes.
“Unions are deeply concerned the Government’s current review of the 457 visa scheme will lead to further watering down of the requirements for employers.”
“The Government must use the 457 visa review to strengthen the scheme so employers have to genuinely try to recruit and train local workers, as well as ensuring that foreign workers are employed under the same pay and conditions as Australian workers.