Bosses Caught Out On Migrant Rip-Offs

Bosses caught out on migrant rip-offs
The Australian
Joseph Kerr
July 14, 2006

ALMOST four in five employers investigated for underpaying temporary skilled migrants have been caught out.

West Australian investigators from the Department of Consumer and Employment Protection looked into 36 allegations that employers failed to pay temporary skilled migrants full entitlements in 2004 and last year.

They found nearly 78 per cent of the investigated employers were in breach of their obligations, to the tune of more than $203,000.

The revelations are in a draft agenda item for the immigration ministers meeting in New Zealand today, after the issue was forced off the agenda of today's Council of Australian Governments meeting by the states.

So-called 457 visas are available to temporary skilled migrants, with allegations of abuses in Western Australia referred by the Department of Immigration to the state's Consumer Department. Some of the allegations included that employers had not paid appropriate superannuation, had given misleading information on living and working conditions, and had threatened to withdraw their sponsorship of the worker.

The breaches identified included failing to pay the appropriate rates, failing to pay overtime and penalties, failing to pay for annual leave and public holidays and failing to keep proper records.

A spokesman for Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone refused to say what was on the agenda for today's meeting.

Opposition Leader Kim Beazley said the 457 visa was the Government's vehicle for driving down wages under its industrial relations regime. “And those cases outlined in this West Australian document are directly linked to the undermining of Australian workers' wages and conditions in John Howard's race to the bottom,” he said.

Opposition immigration spokesman Tony Burke said the department had taken so long to investigate the allegations that in some cases “temporary workers could have come and gone before the Department of Immigration even looks at these breaches”.