Meat processors seek new agreement for migrant labour
The ABC News (Australia), April 20, 2010
Meat processors are attempting to negotiate a new labour agreement for 457 visas.
The 457 visa enables a processor to sponsor staff from overseas on a temporary basis to work in Australia, from three months to four years.
Corporate affairs spokesman for processor Teys Brothers, Tom Maguire, says the company has been in negotiations with the Federal Government for 18 months.
'The pace has been frustratingly slow, but what we are trying to do is achieve a pathway to permanent residency for a number of people who have been in the country for a number of years now, and we are also trying to align the labour agreement with the industrial arrangements in place in the different plants,' he says.
'There are some traditions within the meat industry, such as regular daily hire, which reflect the seasonality of the business, and that is not reflected in the labour agreement.'
He says if processors aren't signed up to an agreement, workers will have to return to their country of origin when their visa expires.
The Labor Member for Blair, Shayne Neumann, says the government has made it clear that 457 visa holders should not be taking the jobs of Australian workers and that doesn't just apply to the meat industry.
What the government has said, not just to the meat industry, but industry generally, is that the government won't support employers who employ foreign workers ahead of local workers,' he says.
'So what we have done to the meat industry and other industries is tell them that they need to reduce their reliannce on 457 workers.'
Currently sponsored workers can stay in Australia for the length of the visa, but must seek sponsorship from another employer or leave Australia if they cease working for their sponsoring employer.