Another month, another migrant labour scandal

By Leith van Onselen

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?

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  1. The is a big industry minting money off immigration. Many fortunes are being made.

    This is how CPA made their millions, verifying accounting qualifications. EA (Engineers Australia) does the same thing for IT and engineers.

    Immigration agents are also minting it – my company employs them the handle the importation of 457 holders.
    When a local resigns, we just replace him with a 457 holder or two. The immigration agent handles all the paperwork “proving’ that we couldn’t attract a suitable local.

    So for each immigrant there is around $4000 for the agent, $3000 for EA to “vet” their “IT” qualifications and $4500 to the government Immigration dept. All these fees can now be deducted from the immigrant’s wages with the new 457 visa rules.

    My guess is some of this cash has to be paid to the government to keep the schemes going. CPA is one of the biggest donors to both parties.

    • money to made teaching migrants how to actually drive. Seems the fraudsters missed third market.
      1. Bu$$$$it driving lesson package (3 lessons then sit test)
      2. RTA RMS Vic roads take their cut
      3. Literally thousands of people behind the wheel terrified to actually drive so they crawll 5-40km under speed limit, slow to turn, run red lights, sit in right lane, won’t pass a truck or sit in adjacent lane, overload car with people, drive SUV cos safety and take up 2 parking spaces because they cannot park, double park waiting for spouse or whatever cos they can’t park. Etc.
      Untapped billions in this hot mess.

      • Random PunterMEMBER

        True. My observation is that the general quality of driving in Brisbane has declined commensurately with the increase in the Indian population. Uber is particularly hard hit, most of these guys have zero anticipation on the road. Frustrating as hell to crawl home at 40km/h on an empty street.

      • If you have a Mainland Chinese driver’s licence, it automatically gets converted into a 5 year Australian one – no retest required.

        Not so for India and most of Africa where VicRoads & co reckon their standards are too low…

      • If you’re talking about Victoria, the reason you lot drive so slow is because of the ludicrously strict speeding enforcement there (from my experience at least, probably the strictest on the planet).

        Victorians are notorious all over the country for always driving at least 5 under the limit because of this, and have been for 10+ years.

        “Victoria – On the move (slowly)”

      • ErmingtonPlumbing

        I noticed in WA people driving 5 or more kph under the speed limit,…in the Right lane!,…on all freeways!
        It used to infuriate me so much.
        You’d be ran off the Road driving like that in Sydney/NSW!

        I put it down to fear of extremely violent Western Australian Police,…either that or those in WA are all just really crap drivers.

      • Lane discipline everywhere in Australia is horrendously bad. Possibly even worse than Americans, but they at least have the intelligence/resources to have made every vaguely major road several lanes wide in each direction to allow for nobody keeping leftright.

        I used to complain about bad drivers in Australia, just like everyone else. Then I lived in Switzerland for a couple of years and did more than a few road trips into Germany. It’s like a different world.

        Heck, even the UK is a vastly better driving experience than anywhere in Australia, in no small part because of lane discipline.

    • I know you are being funny, but its true. As long as it only directly affects 457/immigrants then the general public does not gives a rats ass.

  2. Whats the difference between slave labor and virtual slave labor. Aren’t we talking about ‘literally’ the same behavior by investors / rent seekers / slave owners?

  3. Don’t forgot the insurance industry that also has setup special insurance schemes for 457 workers.

    Companies are now marketing ‘457’ workers as promoting ‘diversity’ to give themselves a market advantage by making themselves look more socially responsible. It is a complete scam this whole migrant industry and those who prey on it, all promoted by our Federal politicians.

  4. “before our politicians take action and close down the various avenues to exploitation and rorting?”
    If they did this they would be worried that the general public would expect their own thieving and rorting to be curtailed as well. Always better to have some kind of distraction available.

  5. These so called exploited migrants are willing participants in defrauding the visa system along with the organisers. Authorities only get complaints when these people don’t get what they paid for and discover they’ve just been conned.

    • bingo. acting like these peeps are “victims” is a joke – they know what theyre doing. get ’em, deport ’em, lock up their employers.

    • I never understood how the international students that were being underpaid by 7-Eleven were quick to be the ‘victims’.

      Aren’t they working in excess of their student visa requirements? Deport them based on visa breaches.

  6. Love the guy thats taking on a worker and getting paid to buy a visa for a migrant, who then turns around and calls the other guy dodgy. You can’t make this sh1t up!

  7. 2.6 million migrant guestworkers on pretext visas.
    (2.1 million Temporary visas, plus 440k or 5% tourist / visitors working illegally, plus 65k overstayers – ABF)

    85% plus unskilled.

    88% plus concentration in the two capital cities.
    1.3 million in Sydney,
    1.0 million in Melbourne,
    300k elsewhere.

    All here to work illegally, pay back the loans from the foreign criminal syndicate/agent procurers & to send back the remittances.
    A $105 billion underground guestworker economy.
    Fake ID, cash in hand. Blackmarket & vice.
    Little or no tax paid.

    Lowering wages, destroying Australian jobs, debase housing, education and our standards of living.

    Here only to get that PR & drag in the rest of their third world unskilled welfare & health care burden.

    The craziest, most uneconomic and socially destructive migrant guestworker program in the world.

  8. Can we really be surprised when we are taking the bulk of our immigration from two of the most corrupt nations on Earth?