A Senate Inquiry in Brisbane today will hear about Queensland workers who have lost their jobs or missed out on job opportunities because of the growing use of workers on temporary visas, including 457 and working holiday visas.

Unions will also give evidence about the shocking exploitation of workers on temporary visas and the impact the abuse of the temporary visa system is having on unemployment and youth unemployment.

This includes evidence from a worker at a poultry farm in Mareeba, a town in the Queensland Tablelands with high unemployment, which had an all local workforce five years ago and is now staffed almost entirely by temporary visa workers.

The Senate Inquiry must take action to ensure the large and growing use of temporary work visas does not impact on job and training opportunities for local workers.

Unions are calling for caps on temporary visa numbers, tougher requirements for employers to hire local workers before recruiting workers from overseas and stronger training obligations for employers who use 457 visas, including requirements to train Australian apprentices in the same occupations where temporary visa holders are being employed.

Key facts:

  • There are currently 158,500 Queenslanders unemployed and looking for work
  • There are currently 15,420 overseas workers in Queensland on 457 visas
  • Unions estimate there are around 200,000 temporary visa holders in Queensland (includes student, working holiday and 457 visas)
  • The top three industries for 457 visa use in Queensland are hospitality (2,590 visa holders), healthcare and social assistance (1,770 visa holders) and construction (1,580 visa holders)
  • The top three jobs for 457 visa holders in Queensland are cook (1,160 visa holders) café or restaurant manager (950 visa holders) and customer service manager (400 visa holders)

 Quotes attributable to ACTU President Ged Kearney:

“We are seeing workers on temporary visas being exploited while at the same time Australian workers are missing out on job opportunities – the temporary visa system is broken and must be fixed.

“The government needs to cap temporary visa numbers and ensure that employers who use the temporary visa system and trying to hire local workers and investing in training and apprenticeships.”

Quotes attributable to Queensland Council of Unions, General Secretary Ron Monaghan:

“Unemployment and youth unemployment in Queensland are persistently high – we must ensure that local workers are not being overlooked for workers on temporary visas.

“The evidence of exploitation and abuse of the temporary visa system in Queensland can’t be ignored.”