12 March 2009

Australian meatworks should employ local workers first: Evans

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After uncovering a racket of illegal foreign workers in the Australian meat industry, the Immigration Minister Senator Chris Evans has called upon employers to look towards local workers first.

Senator Evans is urging employers to exhaust local labour supplies first in response to the increasing levels of unemployed Australians during the global crisis. 

The Minister says the need for employing workers on Australian visas would continue to reduce in reaction to the rising numbers of Australians becoming available for work, and the Government would not support any employer who unnecessarily overlooks local labour.

"The Rudd Government does not support any employer who seeks to use the 457 visa program as a substitute for local labour," Senator Evans said.  "Temporary overseas workers are only to be employed if labour cannot be sourced locally."

Labor Member for Blair, Shayne Neumann, expressed the same sentiments in a meeting with union officials and employers in February.

"The Subclass 457 visa program is designed to provide employers with top-up labour when they cannot access the skills they need locally during times of low unemployment," Mr Neumann said.
"If meatworks in Queensland are now able to employ local people or offer existing employees extra shifts, then clearly there is not a shortage of skilled labour and there is no need to employ more overseas workers on 457 visas."

The Government has confirmed it would be closely monitoring the meat industry in Queensland to ensure it is complying with conditions of the temporary workers scheme, including training and hiring local workers before hiring overseas workers.

According to the Government, the global crisis has caused a 33 per cent drop in applications for subclass 457 visas between September 2008 and February 2009 Australia-wide.

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with emigrating to Australia.

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