Tuesday, July 10, 2012

516 Australians turn against Immigration, as employers bring in foreign workers

Australians turn against Immigration, as employers bring in foreign workers

(1) Employers do not have to advertise for Australian workers before
getting foreign workers
(2) Australian gov't allows mining magnate Gina Rinehart to bring in
1700 overseas guest workers
(3) Whose side are we on, asks union boss, as ALP approves migrant
workforce for Gina Rinehart
(4) The tide of public opinion is turning against immigration

(1) Employers do not have to advertise for Australian workers before
getting foreign workers

From: Denis McC <wizard_of_aus@hotmail.com> Date: Sat, 26 May 2012
04:26:30 +0000

http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/politics/no-mantra-justifies-this-employer-takeover-of-immigration-policy-20120518-1yuh3.html

No mantra justifies this employer takeover of immigration policy

Dave Noonan

May 18, 2012

Immigration policy in Australia is shifting from one designed to benefit
the nation to one designed for employers. This is occurring by stealth
and with insufficient community debate.

The CFMEU advocates skilled migration programs plus family reunion and
humanitarian streams that benefit the Australian community. Our union
has a high proportion of migrants and their sons and daughters.

We do not support the federal government outsourcing immigration
decisions to employers and eroding the rights of Australian workers.
That is what is happening now.

Most Australians would be astonished that employers do not even have to
advertise for Australian workers before getting 457 visa workers
approved, let alone prove no Australian workers are available.

This is regardless of whether the job market in an industry or region
has collapsed and Australian workers are desperate for work in their
trade or industry.

Some Australian businesses use the system to avoid paying decent wages
and training Australian apprentices.

Our Immigration Department is becoming a glorified labour hire company
for businesses big and small.

Australia's immigration policy is increasingly based on
employer-sponsored temporary 457 visas which funnel these workers into
employer-sponsored permanent residence (PR) visas.

These visa-holders are beholden to their sponsor for up to five years
under constant threat of their 457 visa being cancelled, or their
permanent residence jeopardised, if they upset their employer.

At end-March 2012, the number of 457 visa grants was up nearly 50 per
cent on the same time last year and up 140 per cent in the skilled
trades. A record 88,600 workers are now in Australia on 457 visas and
their employers will sponsor over one-half of these for permanent
residence visas.

Employers hiring 457 workers in skilled trades do not have to train any
Australian apprentices themselves or contribute to apprenticeship
training in any way.

The resources boom is predicted to last 20 years so it is incredibly
short-sighted to deny young Australians training and jobs in
constructing and operating the mines and associated infrastructure.

The mantra of 'cutting red tape' is being used to justify an employer
takeover of immigration policy.

From 1 July, employers can sponsor foreign skilled workers for PR visas
at minimum award wages, rather than genuine market rates under
collective agreements - an open invitation to low-rent employers to
bring in more cheap labour.

As well, employer-sponsored 457 temporary visas are reaching down beyond
tradies into non-trades occupations such as plant operators, riggers,
scaffolders and concreters, clerical and office workers. Big mining and
construction companies demand the government green light to import tens
of thousands of temporary workers in these classifications.

This exponentially increases the risk of employer abuse of the scheme.

An effective employer monitoring system might lessen community concerns,
but none exists. Immigration has actually slashed monitoring so much
that it site-visited only 4 per cent of all sponsors in 2010-11.

Clear abuses of the system reported to immigration are not properly
investigated and go unpunished.

Some employers prefer 457 visa workers because they are captive,
compliant and cheap.

They will not complain about their wages and conditions if they want
their employer to sponsor them for permanent residence.

Australian Government policy should not allow the growth of bonded
labour such as we see in countries like Dubai.

Recently Tony Abbott said the Coalition would make 457 temporary visas
'the mainstay' of Australia's immigration program, giving businesses
easier access to 457 visas.

He said that this would only happen if Australian workers were
unavailable and that equal rates would be paid.

But under the Howard government, 457s were paid less and used to replace
local workers.

Mr Abbott hasn't told Australians what he would do to toughen up the
rules if he becomes Prime Minister.

Will he put the interests of working Australians ahead of those of Clive
Palmer and Gina Rinehart? The CFMEU thinks this is highly unlikely.

The CFMEU believes our migration system must protect the primary rights
of Australian workers to Australian jobs and encourage employers to
offer young Australians apprenticeships.

Employers must be required to show there are no Australian workers
available and offer apprenticeships to young Australians before any
employer-sponsored visas are granted in trades jobs.

The government must resource an effective compliance monitoring system
for all employer-sponsored visas, and deliver on its promise to
establish an online "jobs board" so local workers can register for
resources sector jobs and employers source suitably qualified candidates.

We do not want an Australia where temporary migrant labour is used to
drive down wages and conditions, while thousands of young Australians
cannot get training and jobs.

Our national interest lies in immigration policies that build Australia
for the long-term, not those that subsidise the already bloated profits
of big resource and construction companies.

Dave Noonan is National Secretary CFMEU Construction and General Division

(2) Australian gov't allows mining magnate Gina Rinehart to bring in
1700 overseas guest workers


http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/political-news/union-fury-over-rinehart--migration-deal-20120525-1z9fh.html

Union fury over Rinehart migration deal

May 25, 2012

Union bosses are fuming that the government has approved a scheme to
allow mining magnate Gina Rinehart to bring in 1700 overseas guest
workers for her Pilbara iron ore project, without making proper attempts
to find local workers first.

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen told the National Press Club today that
the government had approved the first Enterprise Migration Agreement -
which allows "mega" resource projects to negotiate temporary migration
needs up-front - and that it would be for Mrs Rinehart's $9.5 billion
Roy Hill project in Western Australia.

"The project will create significant benefits to the Australia economy
through its capital investments, export earnings and employment and
training opportunities for Australians for decades," Mr Bowen said.

Hancock Prospecting's Roy Hill arm was the first company to apply for an
EMA. It is believed the EMAs will stipulate a maximum number of
positions that can be filled by migrant workers, who must have
experience in their area of trade and be English-speaking.

But as Mr Bowen was addressing the Press Club, union bosses - who were
in Canberra for a regular meeting on manufacturing with Prime Minister
Julia Gillard - held a simultaneous press conference to express their
anger at the decision.

ACTU secretary Dave Oliver said that home workers had been "overlooked"
and called on Ms Gillard to intervene in the situation immediately.

"We think its a reprehensible situation," Mr Oliver said.

Mr Oliver said that job adds had not even been placed to try to find
local workers.

Australian Workers Union national secretary Paul Howes called the move
"sheer lunacy" in a week during which there had been significant job
losses at Qantas and the Kurri Kurri aluminium smelter.

"I can't understand why this decision was made in the current climate,"
he said.

Mr Bowen said the government would establish a Jobs Board so that
positions from the project were filled first with Australians and the
recruitment of foreigners would occur only after genuine efforts to
employ locals. He said the project would provide 2000 training places
for Australians.

Treasurer Wayne Swan had been waging a public campaign against
Australia's mining magnates - including Ms Rinehart - arguing they use
their wealth to exert too much influence in public debate.

During his Press Club address today, Mr Bowen also announced a new visa
for wealthy business people, which will fast-track applications for
people who invest at least $5 million in Australia.

"While we are talking about a comparatively small number of people,
their investments will offer a disproportionate boost to the Australian
economy," Mr Bowen said.

The Immigration Minister also said the government wanted to select
business migrants with a good track record of entrepreneurship.

Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said the new visa category was a
"double standard" and came at the expense of reuniting family groups.

"Today's announcement shows Australia's migration program is being
outsourced to big business at the expense of Australian families and
workers," Senator Hanson-Young said.

"If you're going to fast-track people, why fast-track millionaires and
not the family members of those already here who are so keen to bring
their loved ones to Australia?"

Shadow immigration minister Scott Morrison told reporters in Sydney that
Mr Bowen's business visas stance was hypocritical in light of the
government's recent rhetoric against big business.

"I noted Minister Bowen’s speech to the Press Club today and did find it
somewhat ironic and indeed hypocritical that the government today is
lauding the success and wealth of potential migrants they want to bring
to Australia but at the same time with their class war budget rhetoric,
they want to demonize and tax Australians for exactly the same thing,"
he said.

- with AAP

(3) Whose side are we on, asks union boss, as ALP approves migrant
workforce for Gina Rinehart


http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/immigration/whose-side-are-we-on-asks-union-boss-as-alp-approves-migrant-workforce-for-gine-rinehart/story-fn9hm1gu-1226366976152

BEN PACKHAM The Australian May 25, 2012 6:33PM

UNIONS have accused the Gillard government of siding with the world's
richest woman over struggling workers after Gina Rinehart was given the
green light to import 1700 foreigners for her Roy Hill iron ore project.

The heads of the nation's major mining unions lashed Immigration
Minister Chris Bowen's decision to approve an enterprise migration
agreement for the West Australian project, saying the company had failed
to advertise a single job.

Australian Workers Union national secretary Paul Howes said the decision
was “sheer lunacy” and an “early Christmas present” for Ms Rinehart,
whom the government has previously claimed was a threat to democracy.

“I though we were actually attacking these guys at the moment,” he said.

“Whose side are we on? This is a big win for Gina Rinehart, it's a big
win for Clive Palmer, it's a big win for (Andrew) Twiggy Forrest, and
it's a massive kick in the guts to those 130,000 workers in the
manufacturing industry who have lost their jobs since 2008.

“For the life of me I can't understand why this decision was made in the
current climate.”

(Mr Howes later retracted his criticism of the Fortescue Metals Group,
and instead praised Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest's commitment to indigenous
jobs in the resources sector.)

It is the first time the government has approved an enterprise migration
agreement, although several other mining companies are seeking to strike
similar deals.

The move came as the government announced visa applications would be
fast-tracked for wealthy business people who were prepared to invest at
least $5 million in Australia.

ACTU secretary Dave Oliver said it was “reprehensible” that Australians
were being denied an opportunity to work on the project at a time when
skilled workers were being laid off across the manufacturing industry.

“We are calling on the Prime Minister to immediately intervene to ensure
that before any workers are being brought in under the 457 visa program,
that there has been appropriate measures in place to ensure that the
local market has been tested, that there is a requirement on Gina
Rinehart and these mining companies to at least advertise to see if
there is interest from local workers,” Mr Oliver said.

He said he was “perplexed” at the decision, given the government's
ongoing campaign against rich vested interests.

Enterprise migration agreements allow companies to bring in low-skilled
workers that would not normally be granted temporary work visas, if they
can demonstrate “a genuine need that cannot be met from the Australian
labour market”.

Mr Bowen said the signing of the first EMA was an important development
in helping to meet critical skills shortages in the resources sector.

“The government's first priority is always ensuring jobs for Australian
workers, but there is a need for temporary workers to help keep our
economy strong,” Mr Bowen said.

“With more than 8000 workers required during the construction phase of
the Roy Hill project, there simply aren't enough people in the local
workforce to get the job done.”

Special Minister of State Gary Gray said unhappy unions would have to
put up with the enterprise migration agreements because the decision has
been made.

He said the EMAs were a mechanism to get up major projects that were
significant to the national economy in time to meet market demand, he said.

“If we were to sit back ... the risk is that we will miss that market
and we will end up in future generations with lots of rocks that no-one
wants,” Mr Gray told a business panel discussion in Perth.

“The unions and other stakeholders have had their say and the government
has made its call - end of story.”

Mining magnate Clive Palmer said it was important to support nationally
significant projects with expected lives of 30 to 40 years because
benefits would flow through to improve the nation's standard of living.

“If we don't do something like this, we won't have any jobs at all,” Mr
Palmer said.

“We need to get on with the job. We've got to get rid of all this bloody
rubbish that stops us competing.”

As part of the agreement, Roy Hill, in the Pilbara, would provide up to
2000 training places for Australian workers, including 200 apprentices
and 100 indigenous Australians.

But Australian Manufacturing Workers Union national secretary Paul
Bastian said the company had failed to seek local workers for the project.

He said the government had turned the Department of Immigration into a
labour hire agency for employers.

The approval of the agreement came as manufacturing union bosses met
with Julia Gillard in Canberra to hammer out a plan to prevent mass
layoffs in the sector.

More than 340 workers at NSW's Kurri Kurri aluminium smelter were told
they would lose their jobs this week, while Qantas laid off 630 workers
in Victoria.

Mr Howes said workers losing their jobs in manufacturing could fill the
job needs of the resources sector.

The government has been waging a campaign against Ms Rinehart and other
mining magnates as it moves to “spread the benefits of the boom” by
channelling the proceeds of its mining tax to voter handouts.

In his controversial piece in The Monthly, published in March, Mr Swan
said Labor would place workers ahead of “vested interests” such as Ms
Rinehart.

“Politicians have a choice: between exploiting divisions by promoting
fear and appealing to the sense of fairness and decency that is the
foundation of our middle-class society; between standing up for workers
and kneeling down at the feet of the Gina Rineharts and the Clive Palmers.”

(4) The tide of public opinion is turning against immigration

http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/national/the-tide-of-public-opinion-is-turning-against-immigration/story-e6freuzr-1226362835067

EXCLUSIVE by Anne Wright and John Masanauskas

The Daily Telegraph May 22, 2012 12:00AM

MORE than half of Australians want our borders closed and immigration
ended.

New research, provided exclusively to The Daily Telegraph, reveals a
dramatic swing against border issues, with 51 per cent in favour of
saying no to all migrants - a 10 per cent jump since 2005.

Fears over falling job security and the burgeoning population putting
more strain on infrastructure are two reasons for the shift in
attitudes. The federal opposition said yesterday the anti-immigration
sentiment was due to rising public anger about the number of asylum
seekers attempting to enter the country.

Just a third of the 2000 people questioned by Quantum Market Research
for AustraliaSCAN believed overseas migration made Australia "a more
interesting and exciting place", down from almost half in 1995.

AUSTRALIAN authorities intercepted two more asylum seeker boats
yesterday with 82 people on board.

Almost two thirds said they believed migrants should try to "adopt the
Australian way of life" when they arrived.

The number who believe the country has room to accommodate more people
also plunged to less than a third, down from 42 per cent a decade ago.

Monash University migration expert Bob Birrell said the results showed
public opinion about immigration had moved into new territory.

"I think they are right to be worried, we have record levels of
immigration and as a consequence we are allowing 100,000 migrants to
enter the workforce at a time when employment growth is at a level lower
than that," Dr Birrell said.

"People are concerned that the present rate of population growth is not
sustainable and is going to make Australia a poorer place to live rather
than a better one."

The government's immigration and refugee program for 2012-13 is expected
to reach a record 203,000 people, similar to the mass migration intakes
of the 1960s.

Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison blamed Labor's border
protection policies for public hostility to migration.

"So long as Labor continue to crash confidence as a result of their
failures on our borders, they will continue to crash community
confidence in our immigration program," he said. "That's why the
Coalition will reinstate proven border protection policies to stop the
boats, getting our borders back under control and restoring the
integrity in our immigration program."

A spokesman for Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said migration had
brought substantial economic and cultural benefits to Australia, but net
overseas migration numbers had blown out under the Howard government due
to an influx of low-skilled workers who abused the system.

"Our immigration reforms are delivering a sustainable level of
migration, while responding to labour market needs," he said.

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