Labor’s Kristina Keneally has called for greater labour market testing to ensure that temporary migrant workers fill general skills shortages, rather being used by employers as a tool to undercut wages and employment conditions:
“When we’ve seen temporary migration levels soar… we’ve seen exploitation occur. And that exploitation has put downward pressure on wages.
When we have seen temporary migration soar, and we don’t have independent labour market testing, that has made the job market more difficult for Australian workers…”
This is an opportunity for us to talk about the exploitation of temporary migrant workers, the lack of independent labour market testing, the downward pressure that that puts on wages, and how we get those settings right”.
While Labor has correctly identified the problem, one wonders why Labor continues to insist of labour market testing, which is little more than an administrative hurdle that can be easily gamed. As noted by Abul Rizvi last week:
For years, however, the Government has resisted setting a much higher minimum salary for skilled temporary entry while the unions have insisted on “labour market testing”.
The former is crucial to both protecting job opportunities of Australians and limiting the risks of exploitation of temporary entrants. But the latter, while having a laudable objective, is in practice little more than a bureaucratic charade…
Instead of going down the bogus “labour market testing” route, Labor should instead demand that the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) be lifted dramatically from its appallingly low level of $53,900, which is $3,300 (6%) below the median income of all Australians ($57,200), which includes unskilled workers:
This $53,900 TSMIT has incentivised Australian employers to hire cheap migrants instead of local workers, as well as abrogated the need to provide training.
Lifting the TSMIT to the 75th percentile of weekly earnings (currently $85,852 p.a.) would ensure that employers only hire migrant labour to fill genuinely skilled professions, while eliminating the need for labour market testing.
It’s a no-brainer.