Thursday 21st of November 2019

Prime Minister Should Intervene On Halliburton Visas- Unions

 Reprint of Australian Council of Trade Unions Media Release, February 14

The ACTU calls on the Prime Minister to
intervene in Australia's immigration program to guarantee that
temporary work visas are not being abused amid reports that employers
are rorting the system by importing low-paid foreign workers to fill
job vacancies that should be filled by Australians.

ACTU President Sharan Burrow said today:

"There is mounting evidence that the Federal Government's migrant
worker system is out of control - leading to both the abuse of foreign
workers and Australians being denied job opportunities.

There are stories of workers from Indonesia and the
Philippines being underpaid, overworked and abused while working in
Australia under these temporary work visas.

Immigration Minister Vanstone admitted yesterday that
her Department is currently investigating allegations that US Vice
President Dick Chaney's former company Halliburton imported Indonesian
workers to dig ditches for its gas extraction operations in the South
Australian desert.

Newspaper reports state the Indonesians worked 12 hour shifts for 80
days without a break and were paid little more than they would earn in
Indonesia while being housed in poor conditions at a Halliburton work
camp in the Cooper Basin late last year. (Adelaide Advertiser
13-14/2/2006)

The case of the Indonesian workers in the SA outback follows other
recent examples of abuses of the Government's migration program.

Last week it was reported in the Federal Parliament that
foreign workers were being treated like slaves in well-known Canberra
restaurants. The workers were recruited from the Philippines and 'sold'
to their employers for $6000 to $8000, it was alleged.

One of the workers said she was underpaid, worked
'dangerously excessive workloads' and her employer refused to give her
medical treatment when she suffered third-degree burns to her arm.
(Canberra Times 9/2/2006)

Also in South Australia, there is the case of 34
Croatian and Slovenian workers who have been issued with temporary
labour visas to build a paint shop at Holden's plant at Elizabeth. In a
local area that has unemployment of up to 19% in places, how could it
be that Holden needed to import these 35 workers?

These migrant worker abuses highlight the ugly side of the Howard
Government's deregulated job market. The Prime Minister needs to
intervene immediately to first make sure that employers look to fill
these jobs with Australians. He then needs to make sure any foreign
worker is paid decent wages and conditions.

What job security will anyone have under the Government's new IR
laws if people have to compete against cheap imported labour working in
unacceptable conditions?" said Ms Burrow.

Jobs for Australian workers are threatened whenever employers fail
to properly test the local labour market and instead look to exploit
foreign workers. I thought we were facing a shortage of skilled workers
- not a shortage of ditch diggers and other unskilled workers," said Ms
Burrow.