28 February 2013
At the recently concluded Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans (ACRATH) conference, the vulnerability of these visa holders was highlighted with many of them reportedly becoming captive and compliant labour for unscrupulous employers.
According to the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) reports of widespread skill shortages in Australia are a myth and the de-regulation of the labour market in recent years has resulted in many employers taking advantage to create an exploitable workforce and with the aim of reducing the current wages and conditions of Australian workers.
Whilst the news that the issuing of visas will be tightened, more steps taken to make sure imported workers are paid at market rates, and authorities will have more powers against employers who routinely abuse the visa system was welcomed as an important start for reforming the current system, the CFMEU is continuing to campaign to protect the wages and conditions of its members, ensure employment opportunities for Australians and end the exploitation of poor overseas workers.
On a more positive note, the Conference heard case studies of young Australian women forced into marriage in their parents’ home countries, but was told that new Australian legislation will criminalise forced marriage and empower the young women threatened with this situation.