Ever since the 7-Eleven migrant worker scandal broke in 2015, there has been a regular flow of stories emerging about the systemic abuse of Australia’s various migrant worker programs.
The issue was highlighted in all of its hideous glory when the Senate Education and Employment References Committee released a scathing report entitled A National Disgrace: The Exploitation of Temporary Work Visa Holders, which documented the abuses of Australia’s temporary visa system for foreign workers.
The most damning assessments from the Committee were regarding Australia’s Working Holiday Maker and student visa holders, who were “consistently reported to suffer widespread exploitation in the Australian workforce”.
Despite this Senate report being released last year, there has so far been zero action from the federal government, with widespread rorting of Australia’s visa program continuing unabated.
Indeed, the Turnbull government recently put its bill to prevent worker exploitation on the backburner, delaying a vote until at least August – a full two years after the 7-Eleven wage scandal was exposed – amid an extensive behind-the-scenes lobbying campaign by the Franchise Council of Australia, led by former Liberal minister Bruce Billson, aimed at watering down the legislation.
Today, the rorting continues with The Australian reporting that an audit by Unions NSW of job advertisements on Chinese, Korean and Spanish language websites found 78% advertised pay rates under the award minimum:
Unions NSW secretary Mark Morey said the findings showed “wage theft on a massive scale” was being perpetrated on workers.
A total of 200 job ads were analysed in two separate audits in March last year and April this year.
While the sample size was relatively small, the results showed “overwhelming rates of underpayment”.
On average, underpaid jobs were advertised at $14.03 an hour, representing an average underpayment of $5.28 an hour when compared to the relevant minimum awards.
The lowest rates of pay were $4.20 an hour for a nanny and $9 an hour for an office clerk.
Both jobs have a minimum award rate of more than $18 an hour…
He said migrants often knew they were being ripped off but lacked the language skills, confidence and support to stand up for their rights.
Here is yet another example of how running mass immigration into an economy with surplus capacity is triggering a whole range of unhealthy adjustments. There are now entire business lines, firms and sectors whose business models rely entirely on the systematic undermining of wages and, worse, running virtual slave labour.
We have seen this in pizzas, convenience stores, agriculture, building, mining, accounting, IT, engineering, education, transport, the gig economy and no doubt it is even more widespread.
Surely, the above is also another example of why migrant workers must have at least a working knowledge of English?