International students enslaved by own countrymen

Wage theft from international students has been an enduring theme across the Australian economy over times.

Earlier this year, Alan Fels – the chair of the Migrant Workers Taskforce – described wage theft as “widespread and systematic”, and estimated that one-third of international students are being underpaid, typically by migrant employers of the same nationality:

Former consumer watchdog Allan Fels, who is leading the government’s Migrant Workers Taskforce, said he believed one-third of international students were being exploited, with an unpaid wages bill in the billions… [He estimated] up to 145,000 students on working visas are being underpaid by employers…

Professor Fels… said workplace ­exploitation of overseas students was “widespread and systematic”…

He said exploitation of inter­national students by businesses owned by migrants from the same ethnic group was a particular problem…

The Wage Crisis in Australia – a book released last year by a group of academics – also raised concern for international students, who they claimed were vulnerable to exploitation because they “see themselves as involved in a project of ‘staggered’ or ‘multi-step’ migration”.

According to their analysis, around two-thirds of international students were paid below the minimum wage, with one-quarter earning $12/hour or less and 43% of students earning $15/hour or less.

The Grattan Institute also raised the alarm in July:

Australia is now running a predominantly low-skill migration system. People from this system form a material proportion of the younger workforce. Because of visa conditions, many of these migrants have incentives to work for less than minimum wages, and there is anecdotal evidence that many do…

It is possible that the scale of this influx to the labour market is depressing wages and increasing under-employment specifically for low-skill younger workers.

With this background in mind, SBS News has published another report profiling wage theft of international students by their fellow migrant countrymen:

Jonathan is an international student [from China] who has been consistently underpaid at a series of part time jobs. He says that when he first arrived in Australia, he was offered $12 an hour so many times he assumed it was legal…

“There was a small supermarket owned by a Chinese couple – they told me that they could pay me $12, and they said that’s the average,” Jonathan said…

Jonathan didn’t end up taking that job, because around the same time he got a better offer — a Chinese restaurant offered to pay him $14.50 an hour instead…

It was only much later that Jonathan learnt that $14.50 an hour isn’t that great…

He says underpayment is ‘a common thing’ in local Asian restaurants.

“So when it happens to me, I wouldn’t complain that much because, you know, at least I’m working. At least I’m getting money from this place”…

For international students, finding a part-time job that pays minimum wage can be surprisingly tough…

“It is all too common,” Migrant Workers Centre director Matt Kunkel told The Feed. “We see it everywhere. We see in all sectors of the economy.”

The video attached to the article is well worth watching. It shows Jonathan applying for around half a dozen jobs at Chinese-run businesses, all of which offered an average pay of $12 per hour – well below the minimum wage. The report also claims that 80% of Chinese, Korean and Spanish advertised pay rates were below the minimum wage.

Another temporary migrant from Korea is also interviewed who reveals that she has been underpaid in every job she has had while living in Australia.

According to the Department of Home Affairs, there were around 2.2 million temporary migrants in Australia as at June 2019, an increase of nearly 540,000 since 2012:

As shown above, this increase in temporary visas has been driven by international students, whose numbers have surged by around 250,000 over the same period.

To be honest, it is not only international students but the entire mass immigration model that is driving wage theft and exploitation. Specifically:

  • students, visa holders, tourists all work well below the minimum wage while they hope to qualify for longer-terms visas; and
  • their numbers grow endlessly, and so too does the overcapacity in the labour market.

The result is that virtually every sector of the Australian economy has been flooded with cheap migrant labour, thus eroding worker bargaining power, industrial relations standards, and facilitating wage theft.

Australia’s chronic low wage growth will not be solved until the mass immigration rort is closed.

Unconventional Economist

Leith van Onselen is Chief Economist at the MB Fund and MB Super. Leith has previously worked at the Australian Treasury, Victorian Treasury and Goldman Sachs.

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Comments

  1. reusachtigeMEMBER

    With so many people in the world does it really matter if we kick off the actual slave trade again? It’s what made many countries great back in the day. Look, I’m just putting it out there…

    • What happened to the days when consenting adults could agree the terms of a contract between them 😉

    • The third world unskilled migrants are:
      Not exploited.❌
      Not enslaved.❌
      Not victims.❌

      They are all willing participants in PR, TR/SCV & Tourist Visitors Visa fraud, to enter to live & work illegally in Australia.

      Guangzhou, Hanoi, Mumbai & the Punjab, Dhaka, Cairo, KL, Jakarta, Mogadishu, Beirut – millions more are lined up for the fake doc, the fake health check, the fake papers..

      To enter Australia and be a ‘foreign student’ or ‘spousal’, to claim a ‘protection visa’, to be trafficked via NZ SCV etc.

      Paying huge bribes and in loan debt to the agent procurers & traffickers so they to can get into Australia.

      To then be a Deliveroo or Uber worker, stack shelves in Coles, work in vice, etc and be part of the $136 billion foreign criminal run onshore Australian migrant guestworker black economy.

      Our largest industry by far.

      We have more migrant guestworkers than Gaddafi at his peak.

      🔻1.9 million PR – the majority third world, 80% who are unskilled, aged, dependent & useless.
      Only here to steal welfare & Medicare.
      And an inter generational burden for decades.

      🔻2.561 million TR / SCV
      The majority third world unskilled useless and in visa breach in working & living illegally.
      The core of the migrant guestworker black economy.

      🔻440k* Tourist Visitors – long stay & repeat stay.
      (*5% of the 8.8 million Tourist Visitors- mostly from India, China, South East Asia etc) enter Australia to live & work illegally (ABF parliamentary submission)
      🔻And the 65k Overstayers.

      👉🏼That’s 5 million third world unskilled migrant non citizens preying on Australia’s broken borders and totally corrupted visa system.

      Up to 90% or 4.5 million in Sydney & Melbourne.
      In vast fetid migrant only slums that stretch out to thd horizon.

      Not exploited.
      Not victims.
      Not enslaved.

      They all knew before they paid the bribes, got into debt with the foreign agent procurers, filled out or signed the false declarations – that they would be working illegally, $10 a hour or in vice or other foreign criminal activity.

      They all knew before they got here they would be living in a third world migrant slum 6 to a room in bunk beds cash in hand.
      They all willingly colluded in Fake ID, fake papers & fake health checks.
      They willing lied, went thru the motions of fake courses as Australian Education prostituted itself as a migrant guestworker visa alibi.

      They all deliberately and knowingly stole Australian jobs, worked for cash / false timesheets, or in ABN labour ring fraud, to pay no tax, make no social or economic contribution. To line up to repay the agent procurer loan debt and send back the remittances.

      And they all then try to snag the PR and the cashloav relief back from the agent procurer – to then be the ‘sponsor ‘ & the ‘anchor’ for more like them.

      Not exploited.
      Willing participants.

  2. Stewie GriffinMEMBER

    The header to this article really says it all:

    “International students enslaved by own countrymen”

    Neither the students nor the employers are really Australian, they’re just residing in the Economic Zone Formally Known as Australia, making life difficult for everyone else.

    Deport the lot of them.

    • Slavery in the self-serve has been created by the new Raj. A small band of bureaucrats in Canberra pull the strings and levers and can import an economic cast system where rules do not apply and no one needs know the human cost – because the victims don’t want to tell either.

      The whip and a good kicking once metered out to trouble makers by the soldiery on behalf of the officer class has been replaced by a media flogging overseen by the Left’s useful idiots (Liz Allen) and people the like of Innes Willox (the Tartaned spin doctor for slave owners on Aussie plantations). Corruption and exploitation has been given cover by such people who are hard wired to be unconcerned by the need to sally themselves with objective truth.

      Of course exploitation has followed in the wake of deregulation and mass everything. Even the ACTU got out of the business of worker’s rights and began to point the crooked finger at anyone who warned of the consequences – “racist, racist, racist…”.

      Here we saw the usual Orwellian distortions. The truth became ‘racism’ while the true racists were the ones that allowed an exploited underclass to form and incompatible values to take hold. It is simply perverse.

      In effect, the party and union movement most responsible for such a demographic (ALP, ACTU) turned their backs on them and put the political telescope to their blind eye in order to appease Australia’s new middle-class and made bold sounding as the new world was discovered:

      “Hark, is this Keating’s service economy I see before me? A full-service economy with a shoe shine and cheap shirt?”

      Inconceivable to those of the new Australian Raj in Canberra is that ‘diversity, vibrancy and hollow words’ were not enough. What could go wrong when deregulation and mass immigration were conjoined with ideological blindness, neoliberalism and virtue signalling?

      And onwards rides the ALP on their Charge of the (Neoliberal) Lite Brigade – into the valley of political death with a rag-tag bunch of tossers mounted on donkeys only they believe are stallions.

  3. I know the political will to fix this isn’t there, ’cause $$$ (and the LNP want to drive down wages whilst pumping house prices…!?!?!??!)…but…

    Fix it. This is unacceptable. Enforce our laws, for crying out loud – this isn’t fair nor good for anyone.

    • Of course it is good for ‘anyone.’ It is good for the business owners, as well as the customers of these restaurants that enjoy lower prices than would otherwise be the case. You might be able to argue that despite these advantages there is a net detriment, and so the law needs to be enforced, but it would be inaccurate to deny that there are advantages and disadvantages from this situation.

  4. TailorTrashMEMBER

    This is the reality of Keatings great vision of an Asian Australia . At $12 per hour wages minute noodle sales will be booming
    .

  5. So, I finally got off my arse and wrote to my local Labor State and Fed reps about this, asking them to protect Australian and migrant wages and conditions, and posted links to this article and the previous visa scamming one…

    Doing my bit, I guess??

    • blacktwin997MEMBER

      Nice one Burb, if enough write in maybe there will be some shift in the ALP’s pseudo-moral compass.

      I wrote to my local member a few years back on the immigration/FIRB/real estate issues and received a forwarded e-mail reply from the one and only ScoMao! Condescending and useless of course but it was a response at least.

      • Took me 5-minutes to write and send to both my state and Fed pollies – I suggest others do the same.

        Better to suffer and have said something, than to suffer but wonder if saying something might have made it a little better….

  6. John Howards Bowling Coach

    Simple, remove all work rights for any and all international students, they are here to study then leave, not be on a pathway to becoming PR or citizens. Then set up a reward to dob in all international student and their employers. I wanted to vomit reading a story in the ABC last week with a couple from South America complaining how they could not get some type of professional roles as they had back home, and were working doing food delivery (in fact the story was about the husband and I don’t recall if in fact the wife was able to game the system and find a professional role with here glued on visa work rights). It went on and on about how hard it was for these people coming here, then mentioned that they were actually here on STUDENT VISA’S! WTF is wrong with these morons on the ABC staff who think we have a responsibility to provide employment of choice to the world’s masses crowding into our nation for a better life, at the direct detriment of the lifestyle of those who were born in Australia?