The Australian Council of Trade Unions has made a submission to the Turnbull Government Visa Simplification Review calling for systemic failures in the visa system to be addressed as part of proposed changes and simplification.
Australia needs a work visa system which focuses on permanent migration and serves the interests of the economy as a whole, rather than catering exclusively to the interests of business.
The current system exposes temporary migrant workers to exploitation from unscrupulous employers and offers little or no protection for local workers, even in areas like regional Queensland or Western Australia where youth unemployment is at crisis levels.
The submission notes that 10% of the Australian workforce is currently made up of migrant workers on temporary work visas and that significant portions of the massively expanding temporary visa system have insufficient labour market testing, or no testing at all.
Quotes attributable to ACTU President Ged Kearney:
“We need a visa system which protects all workers and puts their interests first.”
“The Turnbull Government has an opportunity to put the interests of working people first. We sincerely hope that it does the right thing for the millions of workers who are relying on this government to fix this broken and exploitative system.”
“The current system puts the interests of business before workers, both local and migrant. We need to change the rules.”
“Youth unemployment is in double digits nationally, and the lack of labour market testing in much of the current temporary work visa system is simply about putting the interests of business above our young people.”
“The temporary work visa system must not allow employers to avoid their responsibilities to first invest in training and look for local workers before employing temporary migrant workers.”
“We cannot allow temporary migrant workers to be exploited, underpaid, or put to work in dangerous environments without proper protections. We want people who come to this country to stay, and have good, steady jobs.”
“Workers in convenience stores are being exploited. Workers on farms, in restaurants, cafés and hotels, at our airports, construction sites and even in our charities are exploited. This has to end.”
“The temporary work visa system has been systemically rorted by business, and workers are losing out, either through exploitation, or because they can’t compete with underpaid migrant workers.”