Migrants and refugees are amongst the most vulnerable minority groups in Australia. Some of those who have come to Australia in search of a more secure lifestyle, have instead become trapped in jobs that have salaries well under the minimum wage. These workers often have limited proficiency in English and are scared to lodge a complaint for fear of being reprimanded and having their visas cancelled.
It has recently been revealed that a group of farm workers from the Pacific Islands are being paid less than $10 a week, after deductions, to pick fruit and vegetables on Australian farms. Three of these workers have also been forced to pay for shared accommodation in a caravan, with the rent totalling an exorbitant $120 per week. Some of the workers affected by this ridiculously low pay had travelled to Australia with the intention of being able to send money home to their families, something that they are clearly unable to do.
Employment Minister, Michaelia Cash stated that the “government [will] not tolerate the exploration of vulnerable foreign workers.” However, this is far from the first instance of this type of exploitation. Last year, migrant workers rallied for the recognition of their working rights in Australia, after it was revealed that a number of students were being paid significantly under the award wage to complete menial tasks.
In response to exploitation of foreign workers on Subclass 457 Visas, Cash issued a statement that “by hiring illegal workers, businesses are risking more than their profits. They risk their livelihood, and are gambling with a possible criminal conviction.” The mistreatment of workers will have significant repercussions for the migrant settlement process as foreign workers will start going to go other countries and leaving Australia with significant skill shortages.
If you believe that you are being unfairly treated by your sponsoring employer, or are intending to come to Australia on an employer sponsored visa, contact one of our experienced migration agents on +61 7 3229 4025 for a consultation.