Foreign Farm Workers Detained

Foreign farm workers detained

ABC News
Posted Thu Aug 13, 2009 11:08am AEST
Updated Thu Aug 13, 2009 12:00pm AEST

The Australian Workers Union (AWU) is calling for action to be taken against Victorian farmers using illegal immigrant labour.

Department of Immigration officers raided homes in and around Sale this week and detained 23 illegal immigrants from Vietnam, Malaysia and China.

The people are believed to have been working on vegetable farms in the Maffra and Boisdale areas.

Cesar Melham from the AWU says illegal workers are being exploited and are cutting Australian workers out of jobs.

“These people have no rights whatsoever, no protection whatsoever,” he said.

“So we need to have zero tolerance with employers using or employing these people because it is criminal in my view, so close to a criminal act.”

The Department of Immigration is investigating whether the foreign workers were employed by labour hire organisers.

Department spokesman Sandy Logan says farmers employing the workers and labour hire companies could face fines and jail terms.

He says the operation appears to have been well organised.

“We're very grateful to information from Victoria Police locally about observations they have for us, and likewise we are interviewing all of the detained foreign nationals as we speak.”

The workers were sent to the Maribyrnong detention centre in Melbourne.