Australia’s disgrace: the exploitation of foreign workers

By Leith van Onselen

The Senate Education and Employment References Committee has released a scathing report entitled A National Disgrace: The Exploitation of Temporary Work Visa Holders, which documents the abuses of Australia’s temporary visa system for foreign workers.

According to the report, there are over 1.8 million temporary visa holders in Australia (see Table 2.5 below), with approximately 1.4 million of them having work rights. This means that temporary visa holders comprise around 10% of Australia’s labour force.

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Below is a summary of the Committee’s view of the 457 visa system for so-called “skilled” foreign workers:

The committee received evidence that a key indicator of the effectiveness of the 457 visa program in addressing genuine skills shortages is the responsiveness of the demand for 457 visa workers to changes in the general rate of unemployment, and to changes in the supply of skilled labour in particular occupations.

Evidence to the committee indicated that the responsiveness of the 457 visa program to the upturn in the unemployment rate lagged by two to three years. Furthermore, the committee received evidence that the 457 visa program was having a detrimental impact on the employment opportunities for Australian graduates in specific occupations such as engineering and nursing.

The committee acknowledges that it received conflicting evidence regarding the balance between permanent and temporary migration. In theory, the value of temporary migration is that it allows business to meet short-term skills shortages. In this respect, there is an advantage in having some element of temporary migration because addressing skills shortages solely through the permanent migration scheme could result in a skills surplus, particularly if a sector that was booming experienced a sudden down-turn (the resources sector for example). Addressing short-term skill shortages with the 457 visa scheme should be a way of moderating these types of rapid transformations in discrete segments of the skilled job market.

However, the committee is concerned that the broader temporary visa program, and specifically the 457 visa program, is not sufficiently responsive either to higher levels of unemployment, or to labour market changes in specific skilled occupations…

Given the concerns raised in this inquiry, it is therefore appropriate to review the policy settings of the 457 visa program and labour agreements at this juncture to ensure they are set correctly…

The Committee recommends that the minimum income threshold for 457 visa holders be indexed to ordinary weekly earnings, so that it is not eroded over time, along with the implementation of more rigorous, independent, evidence-based, and transparent processes for determining the Consolidated Sponsored Occupations List (CSOL), which it sees as ad hoc and ineffective:

Recommendation 5: The committee recommends that the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) be indexed to average fulltime weekly ordinary time earnings (AWOTE) as at 1 July 2015 and that indexation occur each financial year.

Recommendation 6: The committee recommends that the Ministerial Advisory Council on Skilled Migration (MACSM) be re-constituted as a genuinely tripartite, independent, and transparent body with responsibility and commensurate funding to provide objective evidence-based advice to government on matters pertaining to skills shortages, training needs, workforce capacity and planning, and labour migration (including Designated Area Migration Agreements and the full range of temporary visa programs with associated work rights). The committee further recommends that the reports produced by MACSM be made publicly available.

The Committee also wants stringent labour market testing of all 457 visa nominations to ensure that employers employ locals first wherever possible:

The committee notes that the vast majority of all occupations available for sponsorship under the 457 visa program are exempt from labour market testing…  although the extent to which it is occurring is difficult to quantify, the committee is deeply disturbed by evidence of workers losing their jobs only to be replaced by 457 visa workers. In this regard, the committee is of the view that there should be a prohibition against replacing local workers with 457 visa workers…

Given the current high levels of unemployment and under-employment amongst Australian professionals, however, the committee is of the view that the labour market testing should be further strengthened. In particular, the current exemptions on labour market testing for ANZSCO skill levels 1 and 2 should be removed, and labour market testing should be required prior to all 457 visa nominations.

Further, the committee is of the view that labour market testing should apply to all positions for which a 457 visa holder is nominated under labour agreements and Designated Area Migration Agreements.

Recommendation 7: The committee recommends that the replacement of local workers by 457 visa workers be specifically prohibited.

Recommendation 8: The committee recommends that the current exemptions on labour market testing for ANZSCO skill levels 1 and 2 be removed.

Recommendation 9: The committee recommends that the Migration Regulations be amended to specify that labour market testing applies to all positions nominated by approved sponsors under labour agreements and Designated Area Migration Agreements.

Importantly, the Committee also recommends that employers using 457 visas make explicit efforts to employ and train locals:

Recommendation 13: The committee recommends that employer sponsors of a 457 visa worker (professional) be required to also employ an Australian tertiary graduate in the same enterprise on a one-for-one basis.

Recommendation 14: The committee recommends that employer sponsors of a 457 visa worker (trade) be required to demonstrate that apprentices represent 25 per cent of the sponsor’s total trade workforce (with the threshold for this requirement being the employment of four or more tradespersons).

Recommendation 15: The committee recommends that the current training benchmarks be replaced with a training levy paid per 457 visa holder employed in the business. The committee recommends that the levy be set at up to $4000 per 457 visa worker and that the levy be paid into existing government programs that specifically support sectors experiencing labour shortages as well as apprenticeships and training programs…

The most damning assessments from the Committee were regarding Australia’s Working Holiday Maker (WHM) and student visa holders, who were “consistently reported to suffer widespread exploitation in the Australian workforce”.

The Committee also noted that undocumented foreign workers were eroding labour standards for Australian employees:

The committee received evidence that undocumented work by migrant labour has resulted not only in the severe exploitation of highly vulnerable workers, but also impacted Australia’s labour markets, including placing downward pressure on the wages and conditions of Australian workers and undercutting the majority of legitimate employers that abide by Australian workplace laws.

Looking at the WHM (417 and 462) visa program first, the Committee noted the following:

A substantial body of evidence to this inquiry demonstrated blatant and pervasive abuse of the WHM visa program by a network of labour hire companies supplying 417 visa workers to businesses in the horticulture sector and the meat processing industry.

It was clear from the evidence that these labour hire companies have a particular business model. There are a number of labour hire companies in Australia with close links to labour hire agencies in certain south-east Asian countries… The scale of the abuse is extraordinary, both in terms of the numbers of young temporary visa workers involved, and also in terms of the exploitative conditions that they endure…

On completion of their ‘training’, the 417 visa workers were given a job where they were required to work regular 12 to 18 hour shifts 6 days a week. They were frequently denied proper breaks and often had to keep working or return to work early after suffering workplace injuries. The pay rates were appalling. Most received around a flat $11 or $12 an hour irrespective of whether this was the night shift, the weekend, or overtime hours. These wage rates are illegal and clearly breach award minimums…

Poor or non-existent record-keeping was endemic across the labour hire companies mentioned in this inquiry. This has serious implications for ensuring compliance with legal minimum conditions of employment. The 417 visa workers never met the head labour hire contractor and only had a mobile number to receive texts about the start time for their next shift. The committee received many documents including fake timesheets and envelopes with a figure scrawled on it instead of a proper timesheet. The workers were paid in cash with no deductions for tax.

When the shift was over, these workers returned to squalid and overcrowded accommodation with no proper facilities, for which they were charged exorbitant levels of rent by the labour hire contractor. The rent payments were deducted straight from the workers’ pay packets, most of the time in clear contravention of the law…

And regarding the student visa system, the Committee noted:

The hearings into 7-Eleven revealed that undocumented work performed in breach of a visa condition (as opposed to visa overstayers and persons in Australia without a visa) is a huge problem in Australia. International students who were legally allowed to work in Australia were required to work hours in excess of their visa conditions precisely so their employers could then exploit the technical breach of their visa conditions in order to underpay them and rob them of their wages and other workplace entitlements…

Working (or being required to work) in breach of a visa condition renders an international student liable to visa cancellation and deportation and effectively excludes such workers from the protections of employment law under the FW Act. This further reinforces the power of unscrupulous employers over their workers and provides a perverse incentive for employers to breach the law by coercing their employees to breach the law…

The committee is particularly concerned about the pressure that certain employers have exerted on temporary visa workers to breach a condition of their visa in order to gain additional leverage over the employee. The committee recognises the reality that unscrupulous employers have exercised their power in the employment relationship and the employee has been rendered vulnerable to exploitation…

The committee particularly thanks the former employees of 7-Eleven who appeared at the public hearing in Melbourne. Their accounts of appalling exploitation and intimidation by their franchisee employers painted a bleak picture of working life in Australia for substantial numbers of temporary visa workers. Their stories were not isolated occurrences to be brushed off as one-off incidents caused by a few rogue employers. Rather, the overwhelming body of evidence indicated that the problem of underpayment at 7-Eleven was, and may remain, widespread and systemic.

The Committee makes a bunch of other recommendations around the rights of temporary visa holders, compliance and enforcement issues, franchising issues, etc. There are 33 Recommendations in total.

Check the report out for yourself here.

Comments

  1. The comments on 457 visas are very damning as well. 457 visas have been a disaster for the younger generation as training of our own kids has been severely undermined. What a mess!

    • St JacquesMEMBER

      I’ve been ranting about this effect for years to anyone who’d listen. When the bubbles were on nobody cared, the way to riches was through the asset bubble, all you need was “guts” – no brains. Now that the Ponzi is failing we’re starting to see the long term price – whole generations locked out of homes by hyper inflated prices and locked out of careers (unless their geniuses) by the work visa system undermining the whole training/experience and career structure system. This is betrayal of whole generations on a national scale and the neo-liberal gospel is its creed.

      • Yep. It is the story of greed backed by a validating ideology that captured the minds of a generation of asset owners that were the winners, and are only just starting to realise that everyone ended up the loser.

    • I know many people who no longer have careers in Accounting as they have not being able to find jobs for the past few years thanks to all these job theiving visa 457s ….. enough of this shit already ….

      • Mate the writing has been on the wall for accountants for a while.
        They should have followed the MKR guidelines and learnt how to cook books eg Ray White.
        As China B pointed out with the 3 rules there is no legally profitable industry (and probably sport) in Straya, other than money laundering. (maybe Tatoo parlours and Laser Erasure joints)
        The speed with which all this unravels will be mind blowing.
        Watch this Ray White thingy go. Add Flammable buildings.

    • I have been very local about this shite for years. No-one in Govt gives a hoot. My kids are 23…..with degree doing masters and working p/time because luckily, ‘he knew someone’ (has a massive HEX DEBT!!), 21……cannot get work so volunteers 15 hrs a week and studyng p/time, 16 refused to attend school last year!! ……thought school a waste of time. Volunteers 2-3 days a week assisting disabled ride horses. Has been forced by educ dept to do ‘certificate courses in the interim. My 3 kids question ALL THE TIME asking “What is the point?….there’s no decent jobs….not even any crap jobs….how does a barely speak english girl with no experience (same as us) get a checkout chicks’ job as a cashier at WxxxWxxxxx Mum?!!”….I cannot say anything except agree unfortunately.

      • I’m lost, at least 2 of your kids seem to be developing differentiated skills yet you seem to want them working in dead end cashier jobs competing for scraps at the bottom of the food chain. Surely you want them to leverage these skills and raise above the bottom, meaning we, you me all Aussies need to be creating these opportunities and guiding their career choices so that the skills they learn complement the opportunities the we’ve identified and are actively investing in. that’s the whole reason I keep pointing to the lack of true investment in Australia’s Human capital and the absence of consequent investment in the 21st century opportunities that we’ve identified.

  2. I pointed out some time ago that with out the exploitation of thses temporary slaves, industries like the Tourist , the Horticultural, a goodly percentage of our Crop growing and to a fair percentage our Livestock industry are not profitable.. They exist only because of Govt handouts and exploitation of workers.
    When you couple that realisation with the collapse of the Mining,Coal, LNG, precious metal industry and now the housing collapse (we all knew those real estate agents were crooked) the place is rooted.

    • They are hugely profitable. They’re only the weakest component of the supply chain. I don’t have the statistics but I believe that only about 10% or less of the profits go to the farmers even if they put in most of the overall effort.

      • Profitable, not. Why do we need all these TPP arrangements and Govt Grants to rural industries, rural towns. With a 6 % hurdle rate, no rural industry can cut it. since about 1940.

      • MAte take away Govt assistance whihc is allpied to all facets of boht those industries and they die.
        If Kidman and Co was profitable it would not be on the open market.OJ would not lease his property at Warwick. the Abattoirs would kill locally and export the frozen product, not live export.
        Dairy is the same, hence the push by dairy farmers to sell unpasteurized milk. Look at NZ. Their dairy farms leave ours in the poo when it comes to efficiency, and they are underwater.

      • There are good and bad examples across an industry. Those that need to fail don’t discount those who are doing it well.
        Dairy is a case in point. Boom times invite inefficient market entries, there are plenty still making money.

    • replying to China Bob who says:…I’m lost, at least 2 of your kids seem to be developing differentiated skills yet you seem to want them working in dead end cashier jobs competing for scraps at the bottom of the food chain………

      No. You presume incorrectly on all accounts.
      You need $’s to pay for courses and training which then give you the skills to get the paid jobs on the top of ‘the scrap heap’. Besides what is wrong with being a check-out chick?! You will be appalled also to know that my 23 yr old works parttime as a very well paid ‘trolley boy’…… ‘differentiate’ that little bit of info. Australia is stuffed.

      • Sorry If this is reality for you and your family however to be honest technically I see no end of opportunities in Australia. Interestingly many of my opportunities are created by the very status-quo of high wage low skill jobs that you guys seek to maintain. seems like another one of these wood, trees, forest problems.
        As for: What”s wrong with being a Checkout chick? Nothing that a significant pay raise and some much improved long term job security wouldn’t fix…but than how likely is that given the declining costs of automation?…not very likely in my opinion.

  3. reusachtigeMEMBER

    Don’t dare touch the temporary worker system! It’s great for Australian business as it allows them to bring in foreigners who will work under harsher conditions and for less money than whiney locals and also means they don’t need to bother with the costs of training. It means lower prices for everyone and big profits for business, which is the most important thing for our nations prosperity! The lean towards communism on this blog is sickening!

    • Agree with everything except the lower prices for everyone. Let’s not be foolish here and stick with the apparent great Australian traditional of cartels.

    • None of that drivel you have written has anything to do with creating prosperity as it does not enhance national competitiveness, build new industries, create jobs and contribute to balancing trade. It is ultimately exploitative financial rent seeking and will end in a systemic collapse.

  4. moderate mouse

    This is becoming so widespread that it is difficult for farms to compete without using these practices. Rural employers are exploiting dirt poor people who have been lured here on false promises – often deducting food and board from their pay at inflated rates leaving $0 left over. The cost of providing ‘food and board’ is almost negligible – a dirty bunk room and a few cheap meals. Known as ‘blackbirding’, it is nothing short of criminal. But really, it’s only a few short steps from the farm to our dinner tables via Coles and Woolies. Time we started asking some hard questions of the big supermarkets as to the working conditions of their suppliers I think….

  5. I’m sorry to say but i have little sympathy for those being exploited. Im certain they full well knew the kind of employment arrangements they were taking a risk with. Of course this should never have occured in the first place but these rorts need to be shut down and no foreigners be given jobs unless it is for unique skill sets. Dont know why we need every petrol station in this country employing Indian students.

    • That’s pretty harsh. These people are looking for opportunity for their families. I think you’re blaming one of the victims in this scam.

      • moderate mouse

        +1 The only thing more disgusting than the exploitation of poor people from developing countries by entitled rich folk here is saying they deserve to be exploited because they trusted what they were told.

      • If they are being exploited then nothing forces them to keep staying in these kind of jobs. Surely if you study abroad a requirement is that u have some kind of savings to cover your living expenses and that any work you find will top up the money you already have. Makes me wonder why some here feel we have an obligation towards these people ahead of our own here stuggling to find jobs or make a break into some form of employment. As I said the rort needs to stop.

      • Guys not to be controversial but I largely agree with Fezy. For starters we’re being cheated out of tax with the whole cash economy aspect, and secondly if people are genuinely here to better their lives then surely they’d want to do it lawfully – using the avenues open to genuine migrants.

        It’s exploitation both ways but to seriously say that the exploited workers are pure victims is naiive at best. Both 457 and study visa applicants are supposed to have aced an IELTS exam in order to be accepted, right? So their English comprehension skills should be more than adequate to understand the terms and limitations of their visas, yes? Assuming they passed said IELTS exam under their own steam of course and provided genuine referees, education, experience and employment information in their visa application.

  6. considerable jail time and huge fines (that do better than break even on the cost of administering justice) for the employers and labour hire companies – bankrupt and break these scum

    • St JacquesMEMBER

      Exactly, the cost effective way to do it. Point the gun at the businesses.. How many would break the law if it could bankrupt them because somebody talked?

      • Mining BoganMEMBER

        This is why the elites have fought tooth and nail to keep unions out of the workplace. Can’t have anyone pointing out exploitation, can we?

        Look at this ABCC thing. It’s a delightful result for developers if workplace deaths rise by 37%, but a disaster to point out someone is being underpaid.

        This country is a disgrace.

    • True. Better to hold government accountable. It’s their lack of rules, circumstances and lack of accountability they’re exploiting.

      Australia needs a Trump. Put all politicians in Jail. Investigate what they did in office before being released.

    • The problem is governments have no appetite to crack down on sham contracting or other forms of exploitation. Quit the opposite. Ignoring what goes on is effectively their (Pway of removing underminding the minimum wage, penalty rates and super without taking a political hit. Hell, you can go to the governemnt’s own job website and see employers advertise these types of jobs!

      This has been going on for at least ten years, and when the media coverage dies down, it will continue on unabated.

  7. TailorTrashMEMBER

    Australia is a first world country “transitioning well ” to a third world country .The Seven Eleven mess demonstrates this nicely( and is widespread in other businesses) Bring in third world franchisors with third world business ethics give them free reign to import third world workers ……or supply a pool of third world “students ” who cannot support themselves in their bogus course on the path to citazenship and who then needs to pay young Australians at Australian wages ?. But look at that great economy and count the cranes ………we are transitioning well ……or so scomo says ………..and Malcolm tells us there has “never been a better time to be an Australian”……………………Well in that he is totally correct but he would have been more correct in the 60’s and 70s and 80’s because Australia is now disappearing before our eyes into a third world Shithole complete with ethics to match ……….

    • St JacquesMEMBER

      They are parliamentarians – clowns serving powerful corporate interests, local and global. Nothing more.

    • you are confused, labour explanation is invention and basic economic force of first world countries

      • PessimistMEMBER

        As wages and standard of living are falling across the country,we need more and more Indians and Chinese who can provide goods and services cheaply!

      • but wages and standard of living is falling because we have more people providing goods and services cheaply.
        Argument is circular and if anything it’s becoming clear that cheaper is not necessarily better. The only cases where cheaper is better is when cost reduction comes from profit reduction.

      • Does any particular nation do labour exploitation better than the Indians and their caste-system?

      • you would be surprised, Indian caste system is extremely inefficient in the way it exploits.

        just look into western financial system – extremely eficient

      • PessimistMEMBER

        Aaron why go to India or China, there are 1000s of small scale firms in Australia that use migrant laborers on ABN to circumvent the minimum wage regs.

      • PessimistMEMBER

        Aaron why go to India or China, there are 1000s of small scale firms in Australia that use migrant laborers on ABN to circumvent the minimum wage regs.Most of them are owned by true blue Anglo Australians.

      • drsmithyMEMBER

        Does any particular nation do labour exploitation better than the Indians and their caste-system?

        The yanks have managed to convince most of the population they’re not even exploited, just temporarily embarassed millionaires.

  8. not all temporary visas are the same. Some are easy for exploitation (student) while the holders of others (kiwi visa) are as hard to exploit as citizens (not that citizens are not exploited, in fact level of work exploitation in Australia is currently the highest (among citizens) in almost a century).
    i also think that there is no problem with visa rules when we talk about student visas but rather with the way they are used. Genuine international students who came to Australia with primary desire to study not to immigrate couldn’t never be exploited under current visa rules. The problem is that government lets fake universities and foreign immigrants to exploit the visa.

  9. Australia’s disgrace: the exploitation of foreign workers

    Australia’s disgrace: the betrayal of our own kids

    We are a disgraceful people.

    • “Australia’s disgrace: the exploitation of foreign workers”

      It’s not just foreign workers, that’s what frustrates me about the coverage of this issue. It’s actually wide spread across many industries, like cleaning, it just happens that foreign workers are over represented in these jobs.

      • how the statement that Australia does not need any more unskilled unproductive migrants (even if true) proves that our treatment of asylum seekers is not disgraceful?

        Just imagine an argument of a person who was found beating homeless person saying that he had right to do it because we don’t need more homeless people?

      • How about beating up one homeless person to stop all people being homeless?

        Greater good lefties have no ability of comprehending.

      • scottb and doctorx

        What options are there? The refugees left floundering on Manus are a result of Labor and Greens having no foresight or ability to think through an issue. They acted like children.

        Go on, tell me what they should do with them.

      • drsmithyMEMBER

        How about beating up one homeless person to stop all people being homeless?

        Great idea. We should apply it to all social problems.

        Beating up unemployed people so they get jobs.
        Beating up poor people so they get rich.
        Beating up icky non-hetero people so they turn straight.
        Beating up renters so they buy houses.

        You’re really on to something here !

      • It’s more than obvious to you that beating a homeless man will prevent everyone from becoming homeless so judges should reward everyone charged with such crime
        good that your “ability of comprehending” is intact so there is a bright future in front of right wing fascist project

      • drsmithy and doctorx.

        Is there a way of beating up a homeless person to stop all homelessness? NO It’s a fucking metaphor related to YOUR COMMENT.

        Grow up clueless lefties.

      • doctorX

        Forget the metaphor of a metaphor of a metaphor. Too confusing. Let’s keep it simple. Answer the question.

        “Go on, tell me what they should do with them?”

      • how about letting them into the country and giving them right to work. To reduce stress to our environment and infrastructure we should reduce numbers of spoiled rich asian mafia kids accordingly

      • doctorX

        That’s what created the problem. Maybe you need to reconsider your entire position on this. When you’ve worked it out, tell all the other lefties they need to rethink it all and have been behaving like 8 year olds.

      • doctorX

        Yeah great. When would you consider it a problem? 1 million? 10 million? 100?

        Please tell me.

        You just don’t have to the capacity to think this through.

      • Doctorx,

        Problem: That granting permanent residency/citizenship to persons who arrive via boat and whose identity it is impossible to verify and who it is impossible to clarify whether they are refugees, results in a pull factor for citizens of the third world so strong that the border will be teeming with a tide of economic migrants.

        Example: Europe

      • jim from qld

        doctorX is how the Greens think. They should never ever be trusted with any power ever again. They are a disaster.

      • Australia (as a country) is created by the tide of economic migrants and that is considered by people like you as the greatest event ever happening on this continent and it is officially celebrated as such.
        Without even going into issues of justice or fairness how it’s even possible the same process to be good thing in one and problem in the other instance?

      • Jim and Richard…

        What the – push – you mean for decades of anglo fiddling around in the ME comes home to roost and now you have dramas….

        Skippy…. whilst were at why not bring all the boys home so the incidence of PTSD and other assorted psychological disorders don’t end up as a drag on society… but yeah those ev’bal boat people…

      • Doctor x

        When you say people like you, I’m actually intrigued to know what you mean. Migrants that arrived in Australia with the consent of the citizens are the building blocks of this nation’s greatness, yes. The consent or invitation aspect is the difference between australian immigration and the third world tidal wave European immigration we see now. Do nation states exist to protect their citizens and reflect their views via democracy? Or are they charities for global citizens? Is it fair, that the third worlders who do have the capital to pay a people smuggler get the golden ticket of residency in the 1st world, when the true victims of a cruel resource-scarce world languish in refugee camps or squalor?

        Skippy

        Anglo fiddling in the middle east, you mean American and more historically British/French.
        In a perfect world Skippy the perpetrators would be responsible but we don’t live in that world. We live in a world, where Europe’s naivety has meant they will suffer the consequences of that meddling, because their own policies meant that they were the path of most inviting resistance.

        I don’t know why you assume I am pro- the iraq or afghan wars.

      • @jim
        I was thinking about people like you. who happened to be no better for this country than any “third worlder” but who thinks he/she is miles better.
        We are discussing policies whether to let someone in or not and you are saying how you have been invited, so it would be all third worlders if some power elite found interest in that. Not to mention that that very elite came uninvited and destroyed whoever was here before. Now we celebrate that event of uninvited arrival while arguing that we should not let anyone uninvited in.

      • I wasn’t aware conversations weren’t allowed to evolve into how we decide they do. I’ll try to stick to your format more thoroughly.

      • Young Ok

        If you’re referring to me.

        It doesn’t make me a troll if I don’t share your opinion.

        Maybe keep stupid comments to yourself. Young hey? Grow up.

  10. Seriously.. this has been happening for over 10 years, maybe 20 as I am not old enough to remember. Back then you could walk into any Asian restaurant and bet the house on the fact that the workers were being paid cash well below minimum wage.

    So silly that this becomes an issue now. Especially silly since there’s 0 chance anything will be done.

    • Mining BoganMEMBER

      It’s become a problem because the ‘middle class’ kiddies are being affected now. It only used to be the never-do-wells who got caught in the cycle. It was their own fault see. Shoulda worked harder.

      Now the problem is spreading up the classes and folk have realised that something needs to be done about that gangrenous smell.

      • ++ That nails it. When i started in advisory many years ago the firms were running visa ‘scams’ for their small corporate clients but it was mainly low skilled workers as a dodge to the family entry restrictions. This gradually expanded until practically the whole training and education system in the country was undermined.

        This has been an unmitigated disaster for the country and smashed a generation that’s for sure. That’s why the income shock will hurt so much.

    • That is why China Town in Melbourne is still so popular.
      Edit: Because it is so cheap, all due to the slave labour. Edit Over
      And why the staff look so exhausted and miserable.

  11. For me the exploitation of foreign workers is regrettable but it’s also just reality, the weak have always been exploited in some fashion by the strong it’s human nature.
    What’s not human nature is the complete absence of planning for our future and our kids futures, I’m a big believer in the maxim fail to plan and you plan to fail and nowhere is this more apparent than wrt Australia’s development of true 21st century businesses. sure we’re training lots of our young in the gentle art of wiping boomer asses (where they’ll inevitably come up against exploited foreign workers), this is not a plan. We need to be exploiting evolving technologies and in the process making our kids world experts in these emerging fields. Our kids need the skills to be globally in demand, give them skills and they wont need to be protected yet at th same time forced to compete with global pools of surplus labor. To make this happen our businessmen need to be developing a real lead in one or more of the emerging technologies, in the good old days we called this “investment” and we pooled our “savings” to make these investments possible, in doing this we created our future, we shaped it from nothing but will power…..it is a far cry from the way Aussie understand the words “investment” and “savings” today.

    • drsmithyMEMBER

      What’s not human nature is the complete absence of planning for our future and our kids futures, […]

      There’s plenty of planning going on for their kids futures by the powerful, and it revolves around that exploitation.

      After a few heady decades of holistic planning for society, we have been moving rapidly back to the traditional models of authoritarianism and feudalism.

      “Me want, fuck you.”

    • “?…the weak have always been exploited in some fashion by the strong it’s human nature.”

      True, but that’s why you have laws. Otherwise you wouldn’t be able to walk safety down the street without some thug robbing you. Letting one group, in this case employers, ignore the law is recipe for disaster long term. Don’t believe me, look at the Trump phenomenon.

      • so Rob where is our Donald. How do:
        Turnbull, Sino disengenuis, how about Asbestos Bishop, or Helicopter Bishop. or Mal Brough, et al. compare?.
        How about the AFL fraternity in Melbourne.

    • Way to miss the point guys!
      I’m not discounting the need for the rule of law, I’m simply saying that I personally hope my kids develop the skills that will enable them to not be forced to compete with the unwashed masses of surplus global labor. I’m certainly doing my best to ensure that my kids have differentiated labor skills and the business acumen to profitably exploit their skill set. Personally I see this as the most valuable lesson they can learn while under my roof.
      Unfortunately I’ve given up hoping that Aussies boomers to see the light and collectively plan for all our kids futures. IMHO it will serve them right if 20 years from now they’re getting their ass wiped with sandpaper by some pissed off 457 worker that hasn’t been paid, hopefully they’ll be left to sit in their own excrement for a few hours before said exploited 457 worker gets around to wiping their inflamed ass. Unfortunately they probably still wont understand why this is happening to them…karma’s a bitch!

      • Bob, this is disappointing.Is your vocation of shifting the crumbs to those that pay the biggest fees making you this cynical.

        “Way to miss the point guys!”

        “For me the exploitation of foreign workers is regrettable but it’s also just reality, the weak have always been exploited in some fashion by the strong it’s human nature.”

        Well…. it’s also ‘human nature’ to build and harness enlightened thought and transplant that into fair, egalitarian and pluralistic societies, by that train of thought. It’s not like “Australia” as a pre-Howard construct was dropped here by Aliens.

        Humans, and their nature, built it.

        “I’m not discounting the need for the rule of law, I’m simply saying that I personally hope my kids develop the skills that will enable them to not be forced to compete with the unwashed masses of surplus global labor.”

        There was a time when no one was offered compulsory education, even at a primary schooling level. Literacy was a hope for some, as to not compete amongst the illiterate….

        Our nature, Australia especially, is better than that.

        From a capitalist side, I as an employer, have ultimately found it of greater benefit to have socialised education. Of course I have an interest in my own child, but objectivity dictates I don’t care if it’s a case of hiring your child, or someone else’s.

        Capitalism says a choice of two makes it cheaper for me. The humane side of me says it’s better for everyone.

        45th President Trump, and if not him, the 46th or 47th President sure as hell will, reintroduce protectionism as to halt the citizens of western nations, from becoming the unwashed masses.

        We are unfortunate that we have many of our leaders believing that the way to compete with the 3rd world, is to become the 3rd world.

        Past members of our society, our civilisation… our tribe, have worked too hard, sacrificed too much to let it go.

        It your think acquiescing to forfeiture of western civilisation is inevitable, I don’t think it’s us ‘missing the point’

      • Well I guess that’s one way to interpret what I wrote.
        However another way would be that it is high time boomers made real investments in tomorrows industries for the benefit of their kids and by extension themselves. Without these “investments” they’ll ultimately reap what they sow, and as you correctly point out if we’re not continuously renewing and reinvigorating the industries that make us a 1st world nation than will quickly discover what it’s like to be a 3rd world nation.
        I doubt you’ll find a more vocal advocate for Australia improving their education system especially wrt it focus on 21st century industries. It’s shortcomings are very clear to me but alas even I tire of delivering the same message over and over to a disinterested public.
        In business today you can’t protect yourself in undifferentiated industries ALL you can do is to develop highly differentiated products and hope that that proves sufficient, I suspect exactly the same logic applies to smallish countries like Australia.

      • “In business today you can’t protect yourself in undifferentiated industries ALL you can do is to develop highly differentiated products and hope that that proves sufficient,”

        Protectionism says otherwise.

      • Please do share. Personally I cant think of a single economy that’s really succeeding in maintaining their lifestyle through protectionism.
        I travel regularly to Europe and have worked over the years in both France and Germany, both are in their own ways protectionist economies however for the French protectionism is a necessary foundation for all industrial policy while for Germany it’s a fall back solution that’s used to milk a few more years out of an evolving uncompetitive position. Both countries Industrial policies have been in place for many decades so we can easily see which approach is succeeding and which is failing. That said Australia lacks the depth of supply chains needed to still profit at one level while protecting at another, meaning Protectionism in Australia would be a disaster for any export oriented venture thereby disadvantaging the very industries we need to develop, and that my friend is the double edged sword of protectionism.

      • “Please do share. Personally I cant think of a single economy that’s really succeeding in maintaining their lifestyle through protectionism.”

        It’s not about the aggregate. A vast number of citizens in western countries are seeing their lifestyle decline, even if the aggregate of the country is ‘increasing’.

        They understand they can’t compete with the 3rd world, particularly when some 3rd world countries exploit the rules such as currency so that there can never be competition. It’s a game, that they as western workers can never win, that it’s a one way trajectory under the current rules.

        They will vote to change the rules, hence Donald Trump becoming the 45th president.

        They also know internally they can reassemble replenish supply chains, but the 3rd world can’t find more first world customers.

        “I travel regularly to Europe and have worked over the years in both France and Germany, both are in their own ways protectionist economies however for the French protectionism is a necessary foundation for all industrial policy while for Germany it’s a fall back solution that’s used to milk a few more years out of an evolving uncompetitive position. Both countries Industrial policies have been in place for many decades so we can easily see which approach is succeeding and which is failing.”

        For most that are losing, it’s not about how high the ceiling is, but how low the floor is.

        “That said Australia lacks the depth of supply chains needed to still profit at one level while protecting at another, meaning Protectionism in Australia would be a disaster for any export oriented venture thereby disadvantaging the very industries we need to develop,”

        If and when Australia becomes protectionist, I think your concept of ‘industries we need’ will differ from what others consider ‘industries we need’.

        “and that my friend is the double edged sword of protectionism.”

        When people want a job, so they can provide hope, your double-edged sword will be a distant thought.

        Your solution, as you have expressed, is to teach your children to climb further up the apex. That’s based on the current rules.

        Not everyone can assemble towards the apex.

        They’re going to instead look for ways to change the rules.

      • Not everyone can assemble towards the apex.
        No indeed they cant, which is precisely why the concept of 1st world country, 2nd …3rd country etc belongs in a time vault…break in case of 20th century reentry.
        Today your absolute distance from the global apex will determine your lifestyle, so if a 1st world life style belongs to the fist say 500M people than for a first world existence you need to control your absolute position in global skills/ usefulness rankings to be within the first 500M people.
        Look no further than the growing spread between rich and poor in all 1st world countries to see the destiny of the bottom 10%, now compare this with the top 10% in the emerging world and you’ll have a clearer picture of why you personally need to stay out of the bottom 10% and more importantly why we need to raise the skill levels of all young Australians and keep them away from the bottom of the global skills bucket…it’s our only hope for a continued 1st world lifestyle.

      • “No indeed they cant, which is precisely why the concept of 1st world country, 2nd …3rd country etc belongs in a time vault…break in case of 20th century reentry.”

        That’s akin to saying.. “never to return”

        Never is a long time, particularly when 1st worlders get to vote between every 3 and 7 years.

        “Today your absolute distance from the global apex will determine your lifestyle, so if a 1st world life style belongs to the fist say 500M people than for a first world existence you need to control your absolute position in global skills/ usefulness rankings to be within the first 500M people.”

        Can’t say I agree. Many wealthy Asians for example, currently part of this top 500 million, can easily be omitted by certain pen strokes from 45th POTUS Trump. These once wealthy people, no longer able to have access to rich customers, can’t peddle their wares to those on $2 per day.

        “Look no further than the growing spread between rich and poor in all 1st world countries to see the destiny of the bottom 10%, now compare this with the top 10% in the emerging world and you’ll have a clearer picture of why you personally need to stay out of the bottom 10%”

        I can’t say this is “destiny”.

        When one endears to Make America/Australia Great Again, and local labour isn’t undercut in a bidding war, a race to the bottom, then one may conclude income polarity in 1st world countries may reverse.

        You keep talking about ongoing the outcome of the current manifestation of globalisation as inevitable. I’m saying the many electorates are expressing they may make it anything but.

        “and more importantly why we need to raise the skill levels of all young Australians and keep them away from the bottom of the global skills bucket…it’s our only hope for a continued 1st world lifestyle”

        “ONLY HOPE” ????

        The 1st world locking out imports will consign current third worlders to the 3rd world. Who are they going to sell their wares to otherwise?

        I agree if we go on our merry, globalised way, your prescriptions are correct.

        I also agree that a fair trade in a gloablised world is a better outcome than a protectionist world.

        But I will assert a lot of people in the first world perceive that a protectionist stance provides them a better outcome than a rigged, globalist game. When Trump becomes president, they may accept 2nd best, but to them, it’s a better outcome than 3rd.. 4th… best… of a rigged globalised game which benefits a minority. Many in the western world may view protectionism as their “best hope”, which is certainly contrary to your expression of ‘only hope’.

        I don’t think it’s inevitable in the slightest they are going to sit and eat a shit sandwich they are being fed. Consider many ‘leaders’ have promised them much, and what has been delivered is very little to them, perhaps the ‘goodwill’ associated with globalisation will fall on deaf ears in the future.

        Your argument is “get learned as to succeed in a globalised world, a certain number of you (10%) will be left behind, so make sure you escape that (10%).

        Current cultural forces: “Well, do we have to keep being part of this globalised world?”

    • …..I don’t like your tone at all China Bob! (pardons if I have you wrong btw)…..you have responded to me twice now and ……yes! The ‘reality’ in Australia, right NOW…..for most families with young adult children is, to be blunt-SH!T….through no fault of their parents. Planning for a future?? ……I am done with the HOW’s and the WHY’s…..just for God’s sakes give our young folk SOMETHING better to look forward to than this. BTW the same is happening around the globe. We recently met 20-30 yr olds in China….from Russian Federation, USA, UK, Poland, Finland etc. The most disadvantaged (though educated to college level and many to Uni level) were not from wealthy families. Australia provided Hockey’s (remember him? our last LNP treasurer?) and Abbott’s and probably most of our present serving politicians tertiary education…….for zilch. Uni level students and their parents know the cost today yet still push for the best outcome and ‘plan’ what we did not plan for was a massive Hex debt AND no ‘top of the pile’ jobs!…..not even middle of the pile jobs….and lucky if you get a bottom of the pile job hey! I for one do not believe the unemployed youth statistics those 18-35yrs….these stats are wonky because they do not count those working just a few hrs/wk as being unemployed or those studying p/time. I am very open to ideas regards the education and employment of my kids but you sir reek of ‘pomp’. There is nothing wrong with sweating out in the sun collecting trolleys or scanning groceries or digging holes in the pursuit of a ‘plan’ to better oneself in the job prospect market, so long as you get damn well paid a decent wage WITH PENALTIES for a hard days work for it.
      ‘Automation’ talk is just the most recently poised excuse to do frig all imho.

      • …..I don’t like your tone at all China Bob!
        Sorry to hear that, however I’d politely suggest that shooting the messenger is rarely a solution. That said I’ll avoid further communications with you
        best regards
        bob.

  12. Whom said slavery was a 3rd world problem today…. economic driven… which in turn means mainstream economic rationalizations are the agency which provides the impetus…

    Skippy…. governments and politicians are secondary actors in action….

  13. Bah, who hires 457s anymore? That is way too much responsibility and accountability. No, its a much better idea to outsource to a company which just happens to be full of 457s. As they become competent, they can be sent home to train up call centre staff. You get all the benefits (you can threaten contract terminations for any reason, your tax is easier to calculate because its just an invoice etc) and none of the drawbacks.

    The race to the bottom isn’t done yet. I recall working in 1 team where less than 1/4 of us were Australian citizens. Guess which staff were allowed to go home at 5, and which had to stay until 3am (and expected to still be in by 9am next day) ? You can try telling them that they don’t have to take it, but they took it for the same reason we didn’t report it- toothless regulators are a lot less scary than an employer who isn’t afraid to sack you first and come up with justifiable causes later.

    • No point subsidising university educations, or any kind of education given we’ll just cheaply hire 5 year experienced 457s at the cost a local graduate who’ll never find a job.

      I dont understand why the government is subsidising tertiary education, while happily employing experienced foreign national 457s at the expense of our university graduates. May as well stop subsidizing healthcare so our unemployed kids can just die, since they won’t benefit our economy being unemployed.

      Perhaps if they just took the time to stop and look at reality, they’d understand how ridiculous this is.

      • @kharn83 I think that’s why the push is on for euthanasia. Once these young adults realise the dearth of housing employment options they will become so depressed & slip along to gp for standard X 10 appoints to talk to psychologist, pick up script for anti depressants etc because truth be told there is no alternative. When the drugs stop working they’ll be primed to take themselves off the planet cos that the right thing to do for all the productive folk. It’s just my opinion but I reckon non rich boomers are being primed with same drivel.

  14. The UK has tried to solve this by taxing the bejesus out of work visas (including Australians) but the jury is still out on whether it works or not. This is a bit like the foreign investment fairy tale fed to us by the politicians who can’t find their own arses with both hands. It’s a no brainer that the un-underemployment numbers equate to those on visas, so locals are edged out of jobs by foreign workers here on whatever visa allows them into the place.

    As I drive around my neck of the woods I see lots of coolie hats in the paddocks and Asian/Indian looking folk serving in the restaurants etc., but see lots of Caucasian young people bumming around the shopping malls. Just seems kind of obvious to me, but I guess if I made a song and dance about it then I’d get called a red neck or racist or something. Just an observation, but if it walks and quacks then it is what it is despite the hand wringing from both sides of the political divide.

    The real tragedy is that none of this is a given. The government (federal) have complete control over the utilisation of productive resources, but they don’t have the will to pursue policies that would enable all citizens to live productive and happy lives. As local education and health services are monetised along with the other responsibilities of State then this is the way of the future where we all become a factor of production where the global market can pick our guts out to serve the interests of the vested minority.

  15. The 457 VISA saves the government training locals … This saves money for Australia … Just what we need for the budget and the economy, hard working foreigners instead of lazy locals!

  16. The solution is to limit the number of 457 visas issued to 20,000/year. And have an auction for the spots.

    The ultimate solution is to stop mass immigration. But not even Labor says anything about that.

    Labor does promise to fund unis better, so they should require less 3rd world “students” who are willing to work for $10/hour.

    Vote 1 Sustainable Australia.

    • notsofastMEMBER

      What about the undocumented/visa overstaying population?

      Making paths to documented migration harder only promises to increase this and increase the exploitation of vulnerable people to the detriment of us all…

      • I said the ultimate solution is to stop mass immigration.

        In England they kick out foreign “students” within 4 months of graduating so the result is that less “students” are coming over from India because they cannot stay in England unless they get a job paying £30k/year. Which most 3rd world “students” cannot get.

      • Obviously too many 457 visas are issued.

        Everyone knows that. And too many 3rd world “students” are given PR.

  17. Lets not just pretend that this is simply about the exploitation of foreign workers – who are in many cases getting a better ‘deal’ than they could achieve in their home country – hence morally justified by both parties complicit in the arrangement – the rorter and the rortee. (introduction of penalities on both parties for entering into substandard arrangements may be more impactful)

    Yet what would the average hipster do when he finds out that his Pho is actually non-ethical Pho? What would she do when she finds out that her great massage place was really of the non-ethical variety? Probably have a hipster break-down, and become just as authoritarian and manipulative as the system – the new era of the hipster authoratariat replete with affordable Pho, Laksa, Massages to subsidise the expansive cost of their rents, food-van meals and craft beers – that’s when they’re not jet-setting around third world countries lapping up at the life of luxury without needing to stress about the confines of Australian human rights standards.

    The group that gets stung are the law abiding business entity that is forced out of the market by low ball competitors. Lets face it; if underpaying restaurateurs/other entities were forced out, commercial rents would have to decrease. It may be that the RE sector have more of a role in this systemic rorting and non audit environment.

    • Textile workers in India and Indonesia get paid $100/month. This boss in AUS pays $0/month. Yes nothing.

      How? He just brings in immigrants and says “I will pay you next fortnight” and says the same thing a fortnight later! Next thing you know, the immigrant is owed $8000 in wages.

      Then he sacks them and brings in the next lot of gullible immigrants. http://aca.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=9098049

  18. Corporations don’t want to train people in house, they want widgets for plug and play or sink and swim, unless you can get them cheap enough. On the other hand the fashion is to completely privatize education which just ends up as a looting frenzy and crappy graduates unable to gain the necessary employment to pay off their debt. So the corporations cry poor and ask for more work visa….

    Skippy….. self licking ice cream cone…..

    • Even before Abbott became PM, Aussie degrees were quite worthless.

      And unlike Hong Kong, Aussie bosses do not care about what school you went to or what subjects you did.

      In fact, degree graduates are discriminated against in AUS.

      Also, we have wives of 457 visa workers coming over as well, who then work as receptionists, denying Aussie voters the chance to work as receptionists!

  19. I think China Bob nailed it.

    Build your skills, make sure they are differentiated (and valued), and portable skills are better so you can move to where the opportunities exist.

    There is a massive surplus of labour in the world today, particularly for low/unskilled work. You need to become an artisan, the best of your vocation.

  20. The Idiot has written a few good articles on the issues of (un)employment, 457/416 Visas, and those businesses and politicians who say they care in front of the camera, but their actions would suggest otherwise.

    On Costa farm employment in Tasmania.
    http://www.idiottax.net/2015/02/notes-from-abetzian-employment-reign.html

    On the silliness of allowing more workers into an area with already high unemployment
    http://www.idiottax.net/2015/09/designated-area-migration-agreement-for.html

    On immigration in general
    http://www.idiottax.net/2015/03/how-to-shut-down-immigration-debate.html

    On a proposal for an expansion of work for the dole to commercial enterprises
    http://www.idiottax.net/2014/09/commercial-work-for-dole.html
    (My thoughts, if they need someone, hire and train them if necessary. If they can’t afford to hire someone to do the job, then they better look at their business. If they think wages are too high, look at the cost of living in Australia (LAND BUBBLE people!!))

    And finally, McDonalds in Canada getting in on the working visa scam.
    http://www.idiottax.net/2014/04/mcdonalds-temporary-foreign-workers.html

  21. The good ship Oz is heading for the rocks and all the intellectualising in the world won’t stop it. So are we going to get serious or what?
    1. Stop ALL immigration now. No more refugees, family reunion, phony 457’s etc Review in 2 years
    2. Reduce the dole by 50% to shake the bludgers out of the tree. Form a ‘national guard’ to back up the coppers should the layabouts respond with violence.
    3. Reduce ‘public servant’ numbers by 50% . Not police, nurses etc, rather the parasites that infest all those huge office buildings in Canberra and other cities. Get rid of them; most are totally useless. Put them on the reduced dole and save the taxpayer billions.
    4. The corrupt political system is beyond repair and should be dispensed with. Our political representatives should be selected as are our Jurors – randomly from the electoral roll. We trust jurors – people just like us – to make (at least not long ago) life & death decisions. Could ordinary folk do any worse than the rabble we currently have? Pay them well for limited, non-renewable terms, pre-training in parliamentary procedures etc. Some roles would require specific skills. For example, we couldn’t have an unqualified Treasurer ‘bringing home the bacon’, could we? I’m working on it.

    Pipe dreams, of course. Until TSHTF. And it will.

      • Human nature being what it is, the only road ahead is collapse and re-set. I hope to live to see the destruction of the welfare state and the Marxism that underpins it . (Ooops! I’m being extremely unkind again..)

        When, one Friday night, Janet wets her pants and the fraudulent Fed-led debt- ponzi banking system implodes, chaos will ensue by Wednesday morning, mayhem the following week. Then things will really begin to deteriorate.

        As I’m in terrific shape I think I’ve every chance of lasting the 2 (max) years to see this eventuate.