Rise in number of 457 holders

by Iain Hopkins15 May 2013

Australia Post is the latest employer to be accused by a union of employing unskilled workers on 457 visa holders to deliver parcels and sort mail.

The Communication Workers Union has said that Australia Post is one of many large companies deliberately turning a blind eye to contractors employing overseas workers on the visas.

“It's just cheap, unregulated labour that does not comply with minimum wages,” the union's Victorian state secretary Joan Doyle said.

According to a report by The Age, Doyle will meet Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten on Friday to discuss what she says is the growing use of 457 visas by contractors for Australia Post.

The Fair Work Commission recently affirmed that such visas are only meant to be used for skilled overseas workers, sponsored by a business to work in Australia temporarily. In turn, they can only legitimately be used if a business cannot find an appropriately skilled Australian citizen or resident to do the job.

A spokeswoman for Australia Post vehemently denied the claim, and said it was not hiring employees on 457 visas to work in delivery. According to the spokesperson, Australia Post’s contractual relationships with contractors “ensure they comply with the law and provide appropriate working terms and conditions for people they employ”.

Immigration Minister Brendan O'Connor recently incited debate when he said the allocation of 457 visas will be reduced because their use is being abused by employers. In March, there were 105,600 such visa holders in Australia – a 19% rise on the figures from last year.

COMMENTS

  • by SDM 15/05/2013 6:16:40 PM

    I work for a business which employs people on a 457 visa in 'white collar' roles. We are required to submit the person's contract as well as evidence that their salary is comparible in the business or if it's a new role, then benchmarked against market value. Furthermore, you can only sponsor people for roles which have been identified by the Departtment of Immigration & outlined in the ANZSCO codes as being a skill required in Australia. So, what I don't understand, is how people are being sponsored for roles 'in delivery' and being underpaid? Based on the work we put into our 457 applications, i cannot see how this is happening?

  • by MP 16/05/2013 1:42:19 PM

    Maybe it's time the grey area of sub-contracting is thoroughly investigated as it is a very useful loophole to use someone's services on a full time basis yet have no responsibilities as an employer. A sub-contractor is made to believe they are a business in their own right, yet the freedoms that are usually associated with that like 'having a price' for their service and a say in the hours, does not exist as the contractor dictates what will be paid and also very often the hours that will be worked. So a rather employee/employer relationship but with no obligations by the employer like paying Super or insurance for their workers. The phrases "It's all up to you" and "It depends.." is very often the answer to explain how much you will earn hourly and a way of hiding exploitation.

  • by SHGM 16/05/2013 4:28:16 PM

    Further to the comments by SDM, if what the union is saying is correct (and I doubt that this is the full story), the employer must have lodged a fraudulent 457 visa application or is not complying with their obligations as a sponsor. If so, the Department of Immigration has existing powers to investigate and sanction the employer. The recent calls for a need to change the 457 regime to combat "wide spread rorting" has not been substantiated and is inconsistent with the Department's own evidence from late 2012 and the report of the Immigration Council of Australia of 11 May 2013. It must be seen for what it is, a nod to the unions for refraining from criticising the government in the lead up to the election.

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