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 and visa system.
The issue culminated last year 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”.
Back in June, ABC’s 7.30 Report ran a disturbing expose on the modern day slavery occurring across Australia.
Meanwhile, Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO), Natalie James, told Fairfax in August that people on visas continue to be exploited at an alarming rate, particularly those with limited English-language skills. It was also revealed that foreign workers are involved in more than three-quarters of legal cases initiated by the FWO against unscrupulous employers.
Last month, The ABC reported that Australia’s horticulture industry is at the centre of yet another migrant slave scandal, according to an Australian Parliamentary Inquiry into the issue.
Whereas a fortnight ago, the same Parliamentary Inquiry was told by an undercover Malaysian journalist that foreign workers in Victoria were “brainwashed” and trapped in debt to keep them on farms.
Sadly, the migrant worker abuse rolls on, with a million-dollar jobs and visa scam uncovered that has left dozens of migrants in regional areas with losses of up to $50,000. From The SMH:
The operation run by former banned company director Lubo Jack Raskovic out of an office block in Sydney’s north west, promised to help find migrants sponsored jobs and a pathway to visas in exchange for asking fees as high as $70,000.
“He said he can find the right guy in my field – if I want [visa] sponsorship, he can help,” said Melbourne-based mechanic and former client, Harmandeep Brar.
A joint SBS-Fairfax Media investigation can also reveal Mr Raskovic, 59, and his company, Global Skills and Business Services Pty Ltd, offered to pay cash to employers in regional areas, in return for jobs and visas.
Employer Chris Olm, from Chris’s Welding & Steel in Chinchilla in Queensland’s Western Downs Region, said he was offered $10,000 if he took on a worker and sponsored them for a visa. After pestering Mr Raskovic for his payment, he was told he would be paid in cash.
“He said, ‘do you want money in cash’ (and) I said, ‘just put it in my bank account. Who f–kin’ deals in cash, how dodgy is this’,” Mr Olm said.
Former clients said they discovered the business through word of mouth or Facebook posts. Most spent months trying to source a job though Mr Raskovic but eventually ended up seeking a refund which was never granted in full, and in many cases not at all. Some left Australia ruined.
Last month Mr Raskovic placed Global Skills, of which he is sole director and shareholder, into liquidation with debts of around $2.5 million, leaving 45 creditors, mostly Indian migrants, out of pocket.
…just 10 months earlier Mr Raskovic bought a $3 million mansion in Bella Vista – described by real estate agents as “one of the Hills district’s finest homes” – and purchased a new $100,000 black Porsche Cayenne station wagon, under a separate business entity.
He works for a different company, All Borders Pty Limited – set up just weeks before Global Skills went broke – and operates from the same office under a similar business model. It’s owned by his partner, Neo Tau, who shares his Bella Vista mansion.
The full investigation of Australia’s underground visa market will air tonight at 7.30pm tonight on SBS Viceland or 10pm on SBS TV.
I say this every time one of these stories emerges: there are now entire business lines, firms and sectors across Australia whose business models rely heavily on the systematic undermining of wages and, worse, running virtual slave labour.
We have seen this in fast food, convenience stores, agriculture, building, accounting, IT, engineering, education, transport, the gig economy and no doubt it is even more widespread.
The Senate report on the exploitation of temporary foreign workers was released in March 2016, and yet 20 months later there has been minimal action from the federal government, with widespread rorting of Australia’s visa program continuing unabated.
How many more examples do we need before our politicians take action and close down the various avenues to exploitation and rorting?