The Guardian • Issue #2060

Migrant worker protections

  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2060

Photo: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade – (CC BY 2.0)

Unions have welcomed the Albanese government’s announcement of new measures to protect migrant workers from exploitation.

The government’s proposed package of measures includes new criminal offences for employers who coerce temporary migrant workers to breach their visa conditions or to accept exploitative workplace practices. It also includes measures to prevent employers who have engaged in serious, repeated or deliberate non-compliance from employing additional temporary migrant workers for a period of time.

The government also announced that it will work with unions, industry and key stakeholders to design a system that will enhance protections and safeguards for migrant workers.

This includes protections against visa cancellation for workers reporting exploitation, a visa to enable temporary migrant workers to remain in the country while they pursue their workplace entitlements, and the creation of a “firewall” between the Fair Work Ombudsman and the Department of Home Affairs to encourage exploited workers to report exploitation without suffering adverse immigration outcomes.

ACTU President Michele O’Neil said that the government’s announcement was an important step forward in tackling the systemic and widespread exploitation of migrant workers in Australia.

“Migrant worker exploitation is a national shame,” said O’Neil. “We welcome the Albanese government taking action to protect migrant workers from exploitation and to implement key recommendations of the Migrant Worker Taskforce – after years of inaction by the Coalition government.

“The exploitation of workers in Australia on short term visas hurts all workers and exposes the impact of a migration system that has shifted away from permanent migration towards a guest worker, individual employer driven approach.”

O’Neil said that more needed to be done to protect migrant workers, and that the ACTU would continue to work with the government and other stakeholders on further proposals to engineer exploitation out of the migration system.

“Migrant workers should be able to enforce their workplace rights without jeopardising their ability to stay in the country.

“The government’s announcement is a welcome development, and it is important that the government follows through on its commitments to protect migrant workers from exploitation.”

The Communist Party of Australia stands against exploitation of migrant labour.

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