For years the ACTU has tiptoed around the immigration issue, despite its clear adverse impacts on the working class.
In 2018, the ACTU even signed an immigration compact with the Migration Council and the business lobby declaring support for a ‘Big Australia’.
Today, ACTU secretary Sally McManus has finally taken a stand against the Morrison Government’s announcement that Australia will re-open its international border to overseas students, skilled visa holders and working holiday makers, which Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews says should lead to at least 200,000 migrant workers arriving in Australia by July 2022:
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The Morrison government has announced this week that the international border will be reopened to fully vaccinated temporary visa workers from the start of next month…
We do not have a labour shortage, but a wages and secure jobs shortage. Instead of addressing insecure work the government has chosen to slump back into systemic exploitation of temporary visa workers which has become a business model for entire sectors of the economy.
There are over 700,000 unemployed and 1.3 million underemployed Australians, according to the most recent ABS statistics. Take into account a further million Australians who are keen to work but not actively looking right now (often out of frustration and disenchantment), and there are currently 3 million under-utilised workers in this country. In regional areas youth unemployment is regularly greater than 10 per cent.
Meanwhile, the number of Australians working multiple jobs to make ends meet is at the highest it’s been since the ABS started recording multiple job holding in 1994…
Closed international borders have meant the stream of visa workers coming to Australia has been cut off. Opening the borders as soon as possible will appease the Morrison government’s backers in big business – they will be cheering. It gives employers back the large pool of more easily exploited visa workers that – if history is any guide – will suffer underpayment, abuse and substandard working conditions…
The visa system which is re-starting is not about filling genuine skill or labour gaps, it is about allowing bad businesses to exploit visa workers and avoid providing reasonable, or even legal, minimum wages and conditions. When these employers say “we cannot find workers” what they mean is they are not prepared to change their business model and raise wages…
Low wage growth, and a lack of job security moving forward out of the COVID crisis is not going to help Australia recover quicker. This Government needs to stop prioritising the needs of big business.
Good to see and long overdue. The bigger question is: where is Labor on this issue?
Earlier this week, leader Anthony Albanese confirmed support for Big Australia immigration; albeit with a greater emphasis on permanent migration:
“We need a migration plan that is considered, that is in Australia’s national interest. And Australia, of course, has always been a nation where migrants have come to make a better life for themselves and their families,” [Anthony Albanese] said.
“What we need to avoid is the abuse that has occurred in some sectors whereby labour hire has been used to drive down wages and to drive down costs.
“Temporary migration has a role to play. But it shouldn’t be the starting point. The starting point should be support for permanent migration.”
The fake Greens also want to destroy the environment and working class by flooding the nation with temporary migrants:
Greens Senator Nick McKim introduced legislation into the Senate in October extending or restoring the visas of approved migrants stuck overseas.
The legislation would credit a temporary visa holder’s visa for the time they had lost due to the closure of Australia’s borders.
Given the overwhelming majority of Australians oppose returning to pre-COVID levels of immigration, Labor would storm into office on a platform of lower immigration. It’s time they too took a stand.