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Report Reveals Wage Theft Problem for Migrant Workers in Australia

In Important, World
December 05, 2022

A new union report found on Monday that migrant workers in Australia are facing a disturbing wage theft problem and called for reforms to strengthen protection for the group.

Union NSW, the peak body for the state of New South Wales (NSW) trade unions, surveyed 7,000 job advertisements in foreign languages across more than 10 industries, reports Xinhua news agency.

Over 1,000 migrant workers also shared their experiences when working or applying for work in Australia.

It revealed that over 60 per cent of the job ads audited offered illegal rates of pay, below the relevant award wage.

The retail industry was the worst offender, with around 85 per cent of foreign language ads surveyed offering below the minimum award, followed by cleaning, transport, building and construction, hospitality and hair and beauty.

More than one-third of migrant workers surveyed also reported being paid or offered a lower salary because of their visa type, while more than one-quarter received lesser salaries because of their nationality.

Unions NSW Secretary Mark Morey said it is disturbing that employers were still targeting workers from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

“It’s alarming that employers unashamedly exploit and underpay vulnerable migrant workers, all while Australia experiences lagging migration rates and deals with claims of labour shortages.

“Our audit exposes this underbelly and demonstrates the need for the Commonwealth to bolster its efforts to stamp out bad employer behaviour while empowering workers to enforce their rights,” he added.

Unions NSW is now calling for a new substantive visa to allow workers with outstanding claims of reporting exploitation to remain in the country with working rights until their claim has been settled.