International students ground zero of gig economy wage crush

By Leith van Onselen

Another report has emerged warning that Australia’s migrant slave economy is putting downward pressure on wages:

Wages and working conditions could take a hit if ‘gig economy’ jobs such as takeaway delivery continue to expand, researchers of a new study have warned.

In 2017 the researchers spoke to 58 Uber Eats and Deliveroo workers in Melbourne and Perth… 47 of the 58 riders interviewed said they were in Australia on student or working visas…

Study co-author Tom Barratt from Perth’s Edith Cowan University said the major issue was workers were engaged as independent contractors and could be paid less than minimum wage without breaking employment laws… “if more and more jobs enter the gigosphere, this can put downward pressure on the wages and conditions of workers in non-gig jobs,” he said…

The Department of Home Affairs’ latest temporary visa statistics showed that the total number of temporary visas on issue ballooned past 2.3 million in the March quarter, up 92,400 over the year:

As you can see below, this increase has been driven by international students, whose numbers have surged by 268,000 since 2012:

International students are at the pointy end of the systemic exploitation of migrant workers and wage theft across the Australian economy, as noted by the Australian Council of Trade Unions:

The relatively recent availability of a large and vulnerable pool of temporary migrant workers has undoubtedly contributed to current record low levels of wages growth and a growing reluctance by employers to train local workers…

While there are approximately 1.5 million temporary entrants with work rights, the overseas worker team at the Fair Work Ombudsman consists of only 17 full time inspectors to investigate cases of exploitation – over 80,000 visa workers per inspector. Inadequate enforcement and penalties act as an incentive for employers to exploit temporary workers when the benefit from doing so outweighs the cost of the penalty. or where the probability of being caught is sufficiently low….

There have been a range of abuses uncovered which have clearly shown that the entire system is broken. From 7-11 and Domino’s to agriculture, construction, food processing to Coles, Dominos and Caltex, it is clear that the abuses occur in a number of visa classes whether they be students, working holiday makers or visa workers in skilled occupations.

Last year’s book, The Wages Crisis in Australia, raised similar concerns about the surge in migrant workers and their deleterious impact on wages:

Official stock data indicate that the visa programmes for international students, temporary skilled workers and working holiday makers have tripled in numbers since the late 1990s…

Decisions by the federal Coalition government under John Howard to introduce easier pathways to permanent residency for temporary visa holders, especially international students and temporary skilled workers, gave a major impetus to TMW [temporary migrant worker] visa programmes.

Most international students and temporary skilled workers, together with many working holiday makers, see themselves as involved in a project of ‘staggered’ or ‘multi-step’ migration, whereby they hope to leap from their present status into a more long-term visa status, ideally permanent residency…

Though standard accounts describe Australian immigration as oriented to skilled labour, this characterisation stands at odds with the abundant evidence on expanding temporary migration and the character of TMW jobs… the fact that their work is primarily in lower-skilled jobs suggests that it is more accurate, as several scholars point out, to speak of a shift in Australia towards a de facto low-skilled migration programme

Research shows that in industries where employers have turned to temporary migrants en masse, it erodes wages and conditions in these industries over time, making them less attractive to locals…

As long as international students numbers continue to balloon, so too will exploitation and the erosion of wages.

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  1. Ban foreigners from driving trucks here and see the wages of truck drivers go up. Not to mention, see the number of road deaths go down.

    ACTU loves mass immigraiton – against the interests of their own members and the kids of their members. What an insane set up.

    • HadronCollision

      Sooo Australian citizen truckies don’t contribute at numbers to crashes?

      #FactCheck please

      • @HadronCollision the Vocational training regulator had to conduct an un-announced site visit on a training provider so as to collect evidence of the competency of learners (the overhwhelming majority being ex-overseas students) who completed the course to be a licensed Truck Driver. They found evidence course work was being fabricated which meant the learners did not have the required skills to operate a heavy vehicle. The provider was subsequently shut down and the licences the students obtained were revoked by VicRoads.

      • I have the pleasure of bearing witness to this. I live across from an access ramp to a loading dock which is very tight as it passes between two buildings and is on a steep hill. It must be a challenge to navigate in a semi trailer full of stock for a supermarket. Bascially, if the driver is an aussie, she’ll be right and he’ll navigate it without drama – air out the bags in the trailer to push more weight onto the turntable before you negotiate the hill and you’re good. Whenever the driver is a not an aussie it’s a cacophony of revving diesel engines, air brake release, spinning tyres, burnt rubber and near misses. There have been 3 times when a heavy tow truck has been required to extract a truck that cannot move and has blocked the street for 3 hours. The driver in question just didn’t give two fvcks even when questioned by the guy whos car he nearly wiped out.
        Truck driving should become a profession again, not just a job you don’t give two schits about, the stakes are too high.

    • DominicMEMBER

      There’ll be self-driving trucks soon enough. Couldn’t think of a worse career to be going into as a youngster.

      • That is what they said about 2017.

        “most Americans will have access to a driverless car in 2017” and then they said “at least one car will be able to go coast to coast without human intervention by the end of 2017” and now:

        Waymo CEO: ‘Level 5’ fully-autonomous vehicles  will never exist

        Driverless cars are the new Adani mine. Not financially viable but the executives keep getting salaries.

        Waymo is duping us all

        At best, Waymo took an incremental step towards a self-driving service. At worst, the Google-created company is duping us all. Nothing substantive has changed compared to what the company has been doing since April 2017

        And it’s only in the Phoenix area including the cities of Chandler, Tempe, Mesa, and Gilbert. And within those towns, only within geofenced areas.

        Driverless trucks may work on the motorways but once you reach a normal road with traffic lights and tree shadows, a human has to take over.

    • plebngineerMEMBER

      It’s about member growth. Not doing good that might result in growth. Its prime existence is just to grow, that’s it.

      • +1. If you look closely at the old 457 system a lot of it required membership for their affiliated industry bodies. For example engineers were required to have CPEng (pass an assessment process and then maintain membership) to be eligible for a 457. Other professions were the same. Engineering is different – you cannot easily fugde through it and we mostly got good highly skilled Irish migrants but also suffered wage suppression. Other sectors not so much. You fudge a qualification and it’s quite easy to just pay the fees and get in. Because I mean which sector doesn’t have labor shortages?!!?

  2. “Gig” companies are immoral and effectively illegal – but of course, the government turns a blind eye. The government needs these jobs to keep the migrants employed.

    If we weren’t flooded with international students and low-skilled migrants needing work to pay back agents and send remittances out, governments would be making the likes of Uber and Deliveroo illegal given their dubious work practices.

  3. Support food businesses that don’t use the Deliveroo / Uber Eats model.

    I’m suprised my Pizza Capers deliveries are always locals of a variety of ages.

    • Mining BoganMEMBER


      Just outright refuse to use them. How much do these clowns take from the order? 30% or something? I very rarely order delivery but when I do it’s from those businesses who hire local kids.

    • I used foodora once (I had a free delivery code and was locumming at work). I otherwise refuse to use any of those food delivery sites/services. They fvck over the business and facilitate this poor behaviour.

  4. I’m currently looking for work in Brisbane and cannot believe how low the wages have become for some of the trade skilled positions I’m applying for. I have two trades and I’m not getting interviews apart from fake job ads that are really resume collections for labourhire. I had considered gig work but the number of overseas types I see swamping the roads on unsafe scooters makes me think competition is high and potential remuneration not worth it. End Big Australia, it’s giving me the irrits.

    • Yeah I’m on an award for a low skilled nanny state job (pool life guard). I’m resigned to earning ever lower real wages as time goes by but I count myself lucky to have this job where the Aussie parents are passive aggressive to me when I try to ensure they are looking after their kid adequately enough to ensure a non fatal drowning with its potential effects off brain damage doesn’t occur. Gotta love big Australia (however all the new arrivals minus the Russians always react positively, generally cos they’re abated of the water and know they need to learn water skills)

      • Between 40k-50k for jobs that used to pay quite a bit more. I know I’ve been lucky in the past with above award wages and that “above award” isn’t the norm, but the jobs and my skills haven’t changed, just the oversupply and underutilisation of workers. I was a Chef and the massive influx of cheap foreign workers with fake qualifications and unscrupulous business owners willing to employ them as lower paid “cooks” has ruined that industry. I’m mostly the architect of my own destruction with many a poor life choice, but reading these articles while living the reality of competing with imported workers for lower wages makes me feel I’m getting a bum deal. Was clearing out my storage the other week and found a tax return from high school, earned 30k as a part time kitchenhand, I know its not a straight comparison, sure did make me laugh at the wages on offer today lol

      • I feel for you. There’s no way in hell we should have a “skills shortage” for chefs. Train some bloody Australian ones. The only chef who should be eligible for an Aussie skills visa is Gordon Ramsey. If I was you, I’d set my sights on retraining. Hell, you’d double your money with a dog day care service in the right area.

  5. The Fake Left will argue hard that there is no connection between wage theft and mass immigration. They have made the far-Right’s work much easier by placing a taboo on even suggesting that flooding the country with labour and low paid workers has consequences.

    We are at peak stupid and ideological gridlock in Australia – the only way out is a massive reset as the politics can no longer cope with the level of cognitive dissonance.

    Once we see inner city cafes, wine bars and hipster venues close down en masse it will be time for the Fake Left to revisit its ideology over instant coffee and white rice. With any luck they will not be able to afford electricity and next year we will have a very long hot summer of ‘For Sale’ signs. It would also be an appropriate time for The Fake Greens to consider the urban hell of our over populated cities.

    The anger hasn’t even started – and the expression of disappointed ‘diversity’ is going to be wonderful!

    • Hey are wine bars trendy down there?..i remember the one in neutral bay called the pickled possum, was like a starwars bar and had some random possum that used to live in the ceiling rafters and piss on the attendees…

    • The Fake Left will argue hard that there is no connection between wage theft and mass immigration. They have made the far-Right’s work much easier by placing a taboo on even suggesting that flooding the country with labour and low paid workers has consequences.

      Yep. We have Mehreen Faruqi the globalist in the senate and we have her globalist son writing articles for Junkee.

      Check out this contradictory garbage:

      young couples cite financial considerations as four of their top five reasons for not having more children.

      The reduced immigration program promised by the current government would only worsen the situation.

      Thankfully, most people commenting under the article disagree with her contradictory garbage.

  6. As long as international students numbers continue to balloon

    As MB never cease to point out, Australia has no natural advantage in education, declining higher ed quality, declining reputation and increased competition for a declining set of student aged people in the two or three countries that provide the bulk of the students – at some point the numbers will start shrinking.

    Question is – what then? Does the Uber economy in Australia just cease to be at the same time that the lower tier unis go belly up?

  7. kiwikarynMEMBER

    Like this guy – has a Masters Degree yet is working as a taxi driver. Gets permanent residency for having a high level “qualification” and a “skill” on the shortlist but is basically unemployable in anything other than a gig job.
    “Mr Baydoun was from Lebanon but he had lived in Darwin for 10 years, graduating from a Master of Information Technology (software engineering) at Charles Darwin University. He had been working for Blue Taxi Company
    Blue Taxi Company has released a statement saying it was “heartbroken” after losing one of its “long term beloved drivers”.

    • Masters level courses in IT and Accounting are simply mickey mouse courses designed to facilitate the ambitions of permanent residency for international students.

    • So in this era of the internet, these people aren’t doing research on job prospects; OR they know what they are getting themselves in for, and are happy to play the game to get their PR and shiny Medicare card.

    • I worked with an Indian bloke who had just completed a 3 year IT degree, granted Permanent Residency and was hired to set up WordPress sites for clients.

      One day he came asking for help because he literally could not figure out by himself how to add two numbers together in JavaScript!

      Jaws dropped wide open, both myself and my Sri Lankan coworker (who was a competent programmer).

      I looked up his resume again after that and sure enough his 3 year degree included 2 years of JavaScript subjects.

      How in hell did he pass and graduate?

      Found out later (after he was let go from the company) he was a net negative for the company, he was paid $50k/year and clients unhappy with his work, way too many revisions and still the sites looked 10 years out of date in styling.

  8. kiwikarynMEMBER

    On another note, maybe we should just be glad international students dont get real jobs, as this is a prime example of what happens when foreign graduates gifted degrees get hired to do real work. You end up with another Opal Tower.
    “Cho completed post graduate studies at the University of Canterbury and is a Chartered Professional Engineer, having worked for several firms and the council. After going out on his own, he shared an office in Riccarton with a mortgage firm but now appears to work from home.”

  9. It’s 2.561 million TR / TCV
    The DHA table above doesn’t include the overstayers, DFAT or other visa / non PR or non citizens.

    Details provided here on MB a number of times.

    ➡️ 2.561 million TR/SCV etc as at March 2019.

    The vast majority are third world origin unskilled in some form of visa alibi or pretext to live & work illegally.

    Permanent stay (SCV trafficked via NZ) or very long stay (‘foreign student or partner’ up to 9 years in visa & COE churn.

    2.33 million or 91% etc are in Sydney or Melbourne.
    🔹1.32 million in Sydney, 1 in 4 people a TR/SCV.
    🔹1.01 million in Melbourne, 1 in 5 people a TR/SCV.

    Simply staggering.

    Destroying Australia in wages theft, job theft, housing theft, congestion, environmental impact, infrastructure congestion & overload.

    We now have more third world unskilled migrant guestworkers than Gaddafi at his peak.

  10. Why they are still called students. Two thirds of they do not study at universities but only pay tens of thousands of dollars to so called educational businesses to get their visas stamped.
    Should be called student workers