A Senate committee report has suggested that Australian companies should be forced to offer job opportunities to the Australian workforce besides hiring foreign skilled professionals.
“A National Disgrace: The Exploitation of Temporary Work Visa Holders Report” has recommended the increased accountability on the part of franchisors. It also highlighted ways to protect workers against visa rule violation allegations in case they encounter exploitation by employers.
The report wants Australian employers to hire foreign skilled workers on subclass 457 visas but at the same time recruit Australian tertiary graduates in the same organisation on a one-for-one-basis. The companies have to make sure the foreign skilled employees are working as apprentices. The report has also recommended charging $4,000 on every 457 visas from the companies hiring the visa holders and invest the fund in training and apprenticeship programmes in industries that are facing the labour shortage.
The Guardian stated that the payment to be made by the company should be monitored constantly to ensure the levied amount is not enforced on visa holders in any manner, the report stated. In addition, Australian workers should not be replaced by the foreign workforce.
The said report has emphasised on this aspect following 7-Eleven’s involvement in underpaying foreign workers in its franchises in 2015. The exploitation of workers in Australia on holiday visas by labour contractors has also added to the insecurity of foreign workers working hard in Australia. The proposal recommends Australian companies to focus more on national workers and to also certify that a foreign employee lacks a skill or trade.
On the one hand, the Sydney Morning Herald published a report in February where former 7-Eleven employee Bharat Khanna claimed that the retail giant was exploiting its employees. He is involved in preserving the rights of international workers, including one 7-Eleven employee who used to get a mere 48 cents an hour for his service. He is working to make sure that foreign skilled workers are not exploited anymore in the nation.
Although the promised hourly payment is up to $25, the workers are still not offered that. “It’s all done verbally because they don’t want to keep any records,” Khanna said. “On paper everything is good. When people say no to handing back the cash, they no longer have a job. People are still not getting pay slips or proper breaks.”