Foreign Worker Clamp

Foreign worker clamp

October 30, 2006
The Age (Melbourne)

SQUADS of inspectors in “mobile strike teams” will be deployed in a crackdown on companies that exploit foreigners on temporary work visas.

Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone will announce today the extra compliance measures, to cost taxpayers $23.5 million over four years.

The move to bolster policing of the scheme follows a campaign by Labor and the unions, who claim the 457 class visas are being used by some employers to undercut wages and take jobs from Australians.

The Government was forced onto the defensive two weeks ago, when new data revealed that the huge growth in the use of 457 visas had led to a fall in the proportion of them being investigated by officials to ensure they complied with Australian law.

Last year, the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs audited just 62.5 per cent of employers sponsoring workers on 457 visas down from 96.6 per cent in 2003-04.

DIMA is investigating 180 companies for breaches.

The number of people who entered Australia on 457 visas rose from 28,000 in 2004 to 40,000 last year.

Labor immigration spokesman Tony Burke doubted the extra checks would stop abuses such as foreign workers having part of their wages wrongly deducted by the bosses. “The checks were already inadequate; the Government has simply announced they will do more inadequate checks,” he said.