10 January 2012

Process for temporary Australian working visa to be reviewed

Australia's Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) is expected to announce a review into the process of granting foreign nationals temporary working Australian visas after repeated complaints about the process from Australian manufacturing industry unions.

Australian working visa

The AMWU claims the current process of approving working visas leaves foreign workers open to exploitation.

The manufacturing industry in Australia has long since relied upon foreign nationals working in Australia on temporary visas, known as 457 visas, to meet manpower demands. However, the Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union (AMWU) claims that the lack of proper consultation between the DIAC and AMWU can result in poor labour conditions and the exploitation of foreign workers.

In a statement released in December 2011, AMWU National President Paul Bastian said that "the only mechanism available to unions to ensure an introduction of 457 visa holders will not adversely impact local labour conditions is through consultation with the employer, as it currently stands there is little to no consultation".

The current process requires employers seeking to recruit foreign nationals on a 457 Australian visa to consult with unions about their intentions. However, dispute the unions, any response to these consultations often goes ignored, "if an employer doesn't pass on the AMWU response to DIAC, DIAC automatically assumes that the union has given tacit approval to the application".

This concerns the AMWU as Bastian claims this opens the process to "exploitation by rogue employers" who don't have to comply with the AMWU's "very high standards and tests for labour agreements".

Bastian says the AMWU's tests are "designed to protect local labour wages, conditions and opportunity for local employment and to prevent the exploitation of foreign workers".

The AMWU has urged the DIAC to "facilitate [the consultation] process, with all consultation going through their office" to "ensure that the department considers the AMWU response when reviewing a labour agreement application".

 The DIAC is expected to announce their review in the coming months.

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people lodge their Australian visa application with the Australian High Commission

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