Sacked Chinese Workers Receive Visa Lifeline

Sacked Chinese workers receive visa lifeline

Matthew Moore
The Sydney Morning Herald
September 29, 2007

TWO Chinese workers fighting to stay in Australia to recover more than $30,000 each in unpaid wages have lodged a last-minute appeal against a decision by the Immigration Department to cancel their 457 skilled worker visas.

Gong Wei and Huang Jiandong have appealed to the Migration Review Tribunal against the cancellation of their 457 visas and have been granted a bridging visa that allows them to stay in the country until the migration tribunal makes a decision.

The Herald revealed this month the two men had been brought to Australia by Frank Wang, who owns Elite Marble & Granite in Condell Park, and that Mr Wang had taken more than $30,000 from their bank accounts before he sacked them in May this year.

A lawyer representing the men, Daniel Sheen, said his clients needed to stay in Australia for up to six months so he could run a case to recover their money in the Supreme Court or the NSW Industrial Relations Commission.

In an attempt to pressure the Government to allow them to stay, the two men joined a union-organised rally of about 70 people outside the Prime Minister's Sydney office yesterday.

Mr Gong addressed the crowd, saying that even though tax had been deducted from their wages, no one would take responsibility for recovering their wages while they were shuffled from one department to another.

Although NSW police are investigating, the Immigration Department cancelled their visas because their employer sacked them.

Mr Gong said they would face a life of poverty if they had to return to China without their wages as they had borrowed $24,000 to get the visas and to come to Australia and could not repay it unless they got the money they are owed.

Because their visas have been cancelled, the men are unable to work and are living at the offices of the NSW branch of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union. In addition to donating his legal services, Mr Sheen is providing them with food while they await their hearing in the migration tribunal.