13 June 2008

Seasonal workers warned by Australian Government to have legal working rights

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A statement released by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) yesterday has officially warned seasonal workers flocking to the South Australian vineyards have to have valid visas. The vine pruning season has begun, and the DIAC has said it will be carrying out checks on seasonal workers to see if their visas entitle them to work in Australia at that point of time.

Vignerons have been told they will not be held responsible for illegal workers pruning their vineyards, but the disruption caused to the programme will become an indirect cost born by the employer.

"We are aware that significant numbers of visa holders have moved into the vine-growing areas of the state and we are urging their employers to ensure these people are all entitled to work in Australia," said Greg Kelly, State Director of DIAC. 

Vignerons generally use contractors to hire seasonal workers who are mostly New Zealand, British, and European backpackers on a working holiday in Australia.  The contractors are also being implored to check the working entitlements of seasonal workers so that the DIAC can minimise disruption to the progress of the season. 

In its statement, the DIAC explicitly cautioned that many illegal workers have previously been deported from Australia.   The DIAC also provide a free service for checking the immigration status of a worker. 

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