More 457 visa rorts revealed

ScreenHunter_2610 May. 29 06.46

By Leith van Onselen

Last week, The Australian reported how 457 visas for ­temporary foreign skilled workers have been used to employ nearly 38,000 workers foreign managers, professionals and tradespeople this year, despite there being a pool of 191,000 unemployed locals qualified for the same jobs.

Now, The Australian has revealed that only one in three of the 457 visas issued last year were subject to “labour market testing” to prove no Australian could do the job, with half of Australia’s migrant workers also recruited onshore:

Monash University demographer Bob Birrell, of the Centre for Population and Urban Research, said the 457 program was increasingly a “back door’’ for foreign workers “desperate to get into Australia’s labour market, rather than as a program allowing employers to meet skills vacancies’’…

A minority of employers preferred migrant workers who were “pretty easy to control’’ because they faced deportation if they lost their sponsored jobs.

It is worth reiterating that in March, the Abbott Government announced a review of 457 visas, which looked as if it would reopen a loophole that would allow employers to hire an unlimited number of foreign workers under a temporary working visa, potentially opening the system to widespread rorting.

As argued previously, the efficacy of allowing employers unfettered access to 457 visas is questionable, given: 1) the latest Department of Employment’s labour shortages report claimed that “skill shortages continued to abate” and employers in 2013 “generally filled their vacancies with ease and had large fields of applicants from whom to choose”; and 2) unemployment is hovering around the highest level in 10 years, whereas the labour force participation rate is falling (suggesting hidden employment), and there is substantial under-employment.

With the mining investment boom set to unwind over the next few years, along with the closure of the local car industry, labour surpluses are only likely to increase from today’s already high levels. In light of these facts, one has to seriously question whether the 457 visa program is being abused by employers, as well as the efficacy of further liberalising the program.

The more I look at this issues, the more it seems clear that the government is intent to undermine local workers’ pay and conditions, while at the same time keeping the throttle on population growth and capital’s share of profits.

While 457 visas are fine to fill genuine labour shortages, the system should not systematically make it easier to import labour from offshore rather than training local workers, as this will only lead to a large pool of unemployed, and deprive our youth of employment opportunities.

Chalk this up as yet another salvo in the war on Australia’s youth.

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Comments

  1. “The more I look at this issues, the more it seems clear that the government is intent to undermine local workers’ pay and conditions, while at the same time keeping the throttle on population growth and capital’s share of profits.”

    Why do you think it is doing this? Do you think it is aware of the consequences.

    The satirical cynic in me would say they are either toying with us to see how much pain the sheep will suffer before revolting. Or perhaps because they want us to suffer and drink our tears. However, when it comes to realistic explanations, I am stumped because it truly seems malevolent 🙁 A mix of pleasing their campaign donors and this misinformed drive to make us more competitive. I recall an article here a while back that showed how productivity had increased overall in the non mining economy. So does the government not know this?

    • drsmithyMEMBER

      Why do you think it is doing this?

      Because it facilitates concentrating wealth upwards into a small group of people, a key objective of conservative, right-wing, neoliberal Governments across the world.

      However, when it comes to realistic explanations, I am stumped because it truly seems malevolent

      I’m not convinced it is explicit malevolence (at least for the majority). I think it’s just selfish, greedy, psychopathy.

      • This looks and feels like the correct answer but I feel like a bit of nutter with it. I was hoping that the would at least be some good intention.

    • Strange Economics

      No need to name the companies and industries – can start with the 4 banks for accountants, IT, back office admin. Add mining workers. ie most of the ASX top 10 companies. (and Then there’s nursing and subcontracted out construction workers for the big construction companies).
      The CEO benefit is rational and simplly clear in terms of lower wage costs and higher bonuses, while still expanding mortgaging more and more to the housing ponzi.

      The problem comes when their kids want a job – and there arent graduate jobs. however double uni fees and HECS, and introducing 1 year unpaid internships will eliminate all graduates except those with wealthy parents from the junior executive roles.
      There are plenty of stories on the internet of the problems for graduates getting a job.

      Economics 101 shows govt protected oligopolies could pay a super profit tax rather than ridiculous CEO salaries.

      • Based on your comment, there won’t be a problem for CEOs and other upper management’s kids finding jobs. Unpaid internships coupled with industry connections will ensure that from both angles.

        The question remains. Is the government actively trying to hurt 90% of the people or do they actually have good intentions of somewhere down the line increasing general prosperity?

      • drsmithyMEMBER

        The question remains. Is the government actively trying to hurt 90% of the people or do they actually have good intentions of somewhere down the line increasing general prosperity?

        They subscribe to the belief that only people of the right “calibre” deserve prosperity. There is no such thing as society, remember.

      • casewithscience

        The private sector is not where the majority of this is taking place. It is in government departments (I kid you not).

      • kharn83MEMBER

        Correct , can advise from experience that large corporates are involved in extensive misuse of 457s. My graduate colleague advised at least 2-3 of the grad positions in a recent intake were filled by experienced Indian 457 resources on the program.

        Correlates with actual statistics showing IT grad unemployment is at an all time high, higher than both the GFC and tech bust immediate aftermaths

        Quite a sordid state of affairs.. Not to mention the non graduate related 457 visa abuses which are also quite common.

  2. kharn83MEMBER

    Unfortunately I’m not really surprised – In my own experience I’ve seen 457 experienced hires (3 years experience +) being brought onto Australian grad programs at entry level salaries – which goes a long way to explaining why statistics show IT graduates are now experiencing the highest level of unemployment in the last 10-20 years. (Worse than even the depths of the GFC, and also worse than the aftermath of the 2000 tech bust)

    In my own recent experience I’ve also seen entire highly skilled teams replaced by 457s, and once the 457s have all the knowledge learnt from their Australian counterparts, they are shipped back to India to work offshore, with the Australian employees left out of work, competing with offshore salaries a third of what they are locally.. Both of these instances I witnessed didn’t involve an IT Service provider, they occurred at an ASX Top 50 company whose name would be familiar to all Australians.

    I’ve posted in depth my experience on a couple of whirlpool threads on the same topic – its a recurring theme where this type of model is becoming increasingly common in large corporates, and especially in IT service providers.

    Stats on Grad unemployment in IT
    http://whrl.pl/RdZk1O

    Entire teams of highly skilled workers being made redundant via 457s
    http://whrl.pl/RdZk8q

    Glad that macrobusiness is bringing attention to a real and malignant problem, which few are truly aware of the gravity of the issue.

  3. The other major problem with this, apart from the effect on workers and wannabe workers today, is that when the economy is heading in the other direction, not only will much of the local labour supply be without skills and experience because they were locked out of the labour market, we will have eroded our purchasing power for skilled labour by forcing our wages down – as the comments on the IT labour market suggest, prices take a while to move in labour markets.

  4. There is no need for people to by so cynical or feel they are being conspiratorial.

    The basic premise is to reduce wages. The naval gazing has been going on, and is such entrenched idealism, that the reasons why are long forgotten. Now it is merely the goal, no matter how or even why.

    It is the legacy of Thatcherism and of course some would say Reagan, but Friedman or Chicago School is much more apt.

    Destroying the wages and purchasing power of middle and lower income levels is the surest way to an hegemony of power. People are too afraid for their jobs, too afraid for their lives to even whimper.

    You can see the results for yourselves – the US income inequality and resulting tundras of poverty, southern Europe and Eastern Europe are good examples.

    Income equality is the name of the game – the upward direction of wealth is merely the by product of the higher ideal – wage destruction.

    You will notice that as the playing field for the protection of IP, corporate power via trade agreements, WTO, IMF massively increases, the power of workers, unions etc is utterly destroyed.

    This is no coincidence.

  5. It seems that the lack of policing the 457 VISAs and the foreign investment in housing go hand in hand. Both are undermining the nation to the benefit of rent seekers.

    And all we get told by our leaders of all persuasions is we have to suck it up why they degrade our lives and force us to pay a $1mill for a humble red brick home or force us into pay extortionist prices from a crappy 2 bedroom apartment.

  6. There is a good reason for this. I employ people using 457 visas. Not out of malice but because Australian workers are not as good as European or American.

    So the fact that there are local workers that are qualified on paper does not mean i would risk my business by employing them…

    • @sweetdish

      Than why is that the best of us get hand picked by foreign companies at higher pay rates.

      Three of my colleagues got grad positions in MS at the finish of the CS degrees and a fourth got position at another major company. Starting salaries, US$80K in 2006.

      • The best will always get hand picked. I’m not talking about grad positions here, Im talking about people with say 5+ years experience.

    • According to Pyne there is a need to lift the local costs of getting one of these pieces of papers that you see only risk in.

      Local industries should be up in arms about this, but they are blinded by the 457 visa scheme.

    • Hmmm,

      A lot of the discussion here has been around employing people with 3-5 years experience in place of graduates. Not saying you’re doing that sweetdish, but, you know, graduates are kind of supposed to be a bit crap – the only thing that prepares you for work, is, well, work.

      It’s a bit weird – when I was at uni, a few engineering employers spoke to our class, and their theme was ‘we prefer graduates to be graduates, without significant work experience, blank canvases. Then we can train them properly to work in our environment adopting our thinking. Uni is to learn a bit of the theory and a bit of the jargon, that’s all. We’ll show how to do the job from scratch over your first two years’.

      What happened to that mode of thinking? It’s still easier to teach someone a good habit from scratch than unlearn a bad one…

      • Nothing wrong with Aussie graduates. Local universities are not bad and to be honest you don’t employ people out of University for what they know – rather for what they are capable of learning.

      • Your replies to my comment and FF”s comment suggest you think Aussie graduates are at least on par, but mid-career workers are below par.
        If that is the case, why do perfectly good graduates appear to go backwards in the first few years after graduation if they stay in Oz?

      • Why do they go backwards?
        Good question – my guess is average / sub par culture in many Australian work places. They don’t get trained properly and they get accustomed to a slower less efficient work pace. Australians work very long hours but they are notoriously inefficient.

      • They don’t get trained properly
        sub par culture in many Australian work places.

        Issues that only be addressed from the top.

        Both items require skill and application to address – and the skill part in turn requires practice. The use of 457s to avoid a certain amount of short/medium pain is damaging our long term ability to improve our own workplace cultures.

    • As you seem to believe in generalisations I guess that leaves it free for others to do the same.

      People like you shit me to tears. I’ve found the reason so many people employ 457’s is that they are willing to break all the rules(safety or otherwise) to get the job done quickly. An Australian worker is far more likely to follow procedure as they do not have the threat of deportation if they don’t find another sponsor in 90 days.
      This leaves the employer in a position where it is very easy not to be held accountable for their workforces actions Usually there is a generalised slap on the wrist because they “all” lie about who/what/where the aledged incident happens and so there is an honorary mention at a prestart and we can all get back to work.
      As for the skill level, you must be joking. Maybe “the faster someone works the more forgiving the boss” might be more accurate hey?

      I have seen companies with over 50 staff on site have 1 Australian working for them(who incidentally is sacked the day after being voted in safety rep) The same company has turned over their total number of staff due to alcohol related issues(blowing numbers, fighting etc.)
      Than there is the farce of very new lot of 457’s brought up to replace the lost ones would have up to half there number go down due to heat exhaustion one of which had to be hospitalised…. OMG who would have thought that perhaps Ireland has a vastly different climate to North west W.A. and it seems that getting the right tool for the job is just a play on words.

      From what I’ve seen “everyone” who employs 457’s is only about the bottom line and couldn’t care less about anything but themselves. They have no interest in any costs other than ones which directly effect their button line.

      The papers talk about how we have missed exploiting the mining boom, this is why. Nearly all the 457’s I have spoken too have all their assets back where they come from and 95% of their wages are funnelled directly out of the country. Where as if they where Australian workers the money would flow on to all area’s of Australia in particular Retail… omg.

      The system is a disgrace and is so blatantly abused I have just wasted 15 minutes of my life writing this as employers who use/abuse this system will not change until made to.

      And a note to you personally- If you’re not happy with the skill level take a person and “teach” them the skills you want them to have.
      The skills shortage in Australia is a direct result of companies realising it is cheaper to poach than to train.

      • You are way off. I employ people in media and marketing with salaries north of 100K. We don’t have any safety issues to worry about except for the odd paper cut or spilled coffee.

        My problem is with employing Aussies is not only about skill. I have found decently skilled people here but they are generally poor workers. People from here do not work very hard. In terms of skill, I would say that Australian workers in my industry are behind the global average but not by that much.

    • Mining BoganMEMBER

      Oh wow, how did I miss you?

      I bet you’re the guy in HR, never done the job in question but know how to economise. You’re the guy who makes my job hard, training blokes who know shit but they’re better because they’re cheaper.

      You’re the guy who undermines me by employing guys who are…okay, incompetent and have been sacked from every other competitor or never worked locally. I have to let go competent workers for your ideology. But they work cheap. Winners.

      You’re the guy with no standards.

      Congratulations. You’re just another one helping to ruin this country. You’re on the way up on a wave of mediocrity. I’ll see you on the way down. The kids I choose to coach will, I hope, be more value to this country than parasites like you will ever be.

      Stand up for society. You might even feel good about yourself. Not counting on it though.

      • No. Im an entrepreneur. I own the business I run so Im extremely conscious of who I employ. Its my money after all.

        On the contrary, I don’t employ locals because they are the incompetent ones. And salary wise I’ll happily pay more for better staff. I do have standards, thats the whole point.

        Im not ruining this country. But I’ll tell you what, the white Australian middle class will slowly but surely be pushed out by harder working and smarter immigrants. Its just a matter of time.

        I am standing up for society by not rewarding mediocracy and laziness.

      • Sorry I don’t usually post spout this in the wrong section

        I don’t think I’m well off at all in fact I think I’m bang on.as you fail to see what I meant about training. Training an employee isn’t just about how to do a task it is also about imbruing them with your own work ethic.
        I’ve been self employed in a business with no margins at all. Every employee had to work extremely fast while still doing the tasks well all on minimum wage. I led by example and never expected anything which I wasn’t giving/doing myself.

        A bludger couldn’t stay as they would have sent us broke but between the interview stage and the probation they were very easy to spot.
        Which leads me to your next point in reply to Mining Bogan-

        “No. Im an entrepreneur. I own the business I run so Im extremely conscious of who I employ. Its my money after all.”
        -As I said for the 457 employers its all about the dollar and stuff everything else

        “On the contrary, I don’t employ locals because they are the incompetent ones. And salary wise I’ll happily pay more for better staff. I do have standards, thats the whole point.”
        -So what you’re saying is you’re quite happy to poach and pay more(I believe I broached the poaching subject) but aren’t willing to train

        “Im not ruining this country. But I’ll tell you what, the white Australian middle class will slowly but surely be pushed out by harder working and smarter immigrants. Its just a matter of time.”
        -Ahh yes I forgot that due to a free public education the peasants expect to live relatively comfortably. I guess employing more immigrants who will work for less doesn’t help destroy our county’s conditions and financial condition, after all the more disposable income is earn’t the more is spent on discretional spending and the better the economy performs. The opposite ……………. yes wait for it…………….ruins the country.

        “I am standing up for society by not rewarding mediocrity and laziness.”
        -No you’re not, you appear to be guilty of the very 2 things you are standing against. If you weren’t you would have been more proactive in vetting the potential employee’s and training them in every aspect you expect of them. Instead of taking the easy route

        As I said people like you shit me to tears

      • Seriously. If I pay someone 100K per year I don’t want to and cannot afford to spend time training them from scratch. Thats the whole point. On another note its very hard to train someone to work harder and not bludge. Its a bad personality trait that has been fostered in a poor work environment.

        Its also stems from a rather typical Australian attitude of “she’ll be right”. Mediocrity is often accepted. Doing the job OK is good enough.

  7. The more I look at this issues, the more it seems clear that the government is intent to undermine local workers’ pay and conditions, while at the same time keeping the throttle on population growth and capital’s share of profits.

    Yeap. This is Tones way of increasing productivity…it must be labor…

  8. Can’t say I disagree with the 457 visa. Who wants to pay $500 for an electrician to come out for two hours of work and then have the audacity to charge an extra 10% on top if it’s not cash.

    • Hi Worktime

      There seems to be a lot of detail missing…….
      Like-
      when (was it a weekend/public holiday/evening,
      where was the job, easy to get to or a mile from his depot.
      what did he have to do and perhaps who he was.
      Either way I wouldn’t mind knowing what you do for a crust esp. after you answer the above questions

      • I don’t think I’m well off at all in fact I think I’m bang on.as you fail to see what I meant about training. Training an employee isn’t just about how to do a task it is also about imbruing them with your own work ethic.
        I’ve been self employed in a business with no margins at all. Every employee had to work extremely fast while still doing the tasks well all on minimum wage. I led by example and never expected anything which I wasn’t giving/doing myself.

        A bludger couldn’t stay as they would have sent us broke but between the interview stage and the probation they were very easy to spot.
        Which leads me to your next point in reply to Mining Bogan-

        “No. Im an entrepreneur. I own the business I run so Im extremely conscious of who I employ. Its my money after all.”

        -As I said for the 457 employers its all about the dollar and stuff everything else

        “On the contrary, I don’t employ locals because they are the incompetent ones. And salary wise I’ll happily pay more for better staff. I do have standards, thats the whole point.”

        -So what you’re saying is you’re quite happy to poach and pay more(I believe I broached the poaching subject) but aren’t willing to train

        “Im not ruining this country. But I’ll tell you what, the white Australian middle class will slowly but surely be pushed out by harder working and smarter immigrants. Its just a matter of time.”

        -Ahh yes I forgot that due to a free public education the peasants expect to live relatively comfortably. I guess employing more immigrants who will work for less doesn’t help destroy our county’s conditions and financial condition, after all the more disposable income is earn’t the more is spent on discretional spending and the better the economy performs. The opposite ……………. yes wait for it…………….ruins the country.

        “I am standing up for society by not rewarding mediocracy and laziness.”
        -No you’re not, you appear to be guilty of the very 2 things you are standing against. If you weren’t you would have been more proactive in vetting the potential employee’s and training them in every aspect you expect of them. Instead of taking the easy route

        As I said people like you shit me to tears

    • kharn83MEMBER

      Yeah, multiple abuses have been highlighted by the media but nothing will ever happen until Abbott and his unlimited 457 sponsorships policy is ended.

      By default what he is allowing a company to hire an unlimited number of 457 resources (per company), with absolutely no requirement for that role to be even Advertised to an Australian.

      Ridiculous. Explains why I keep seeing freaking experienced 457 resources on graduate programs because the companies have nothing to fear. If he wants all of us unemployed he’s on the right track for it.

    • kharn83MEMBER

      Here’s a whole a couple of other media reports on identified 457 abuses, where nothing has happened – In fact the only thing that happened was Abbott decided to open the 457 floodgates instead.

      I hope one day he finds out what it is like to be out of employment for 4-6 months, desperately looking for any skilled job that might be available, due to a surplus of job seekers fighting over the few jobs which are not going to 457 candidates. This is an experience a couple of good colleagues of mine have endured, an these were capable and skilled people who I worked with.

      http://www.itwire.com/government-tech-news/govenrment-tech-policy/64069-457-visa-%E2%80%98abuse%E2%80%99-continues-at-expense-of-local-ict-workers

      http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-06-20/workers-accuse-indian-it-giant-of-457-visa-abuse/4769482