The Government of Australia has ordered for modifications in the 457 visa program, there are calls for investigation regarding the current abuses in the system. The changes in 457 visa law includes the requirements for employers and companies to advertise works in Australia prior to employment of foreign workers.
The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union more popularly known as AMWU, recently revealed the current abuses being done by unscrupulous migration agents. One kind of reported rorting was, when a firm hires skilled overseas workers but these workers were only given menial jobs and were asked to work for longer hours.
AMWU also exposed schemes of recruitment which have compelled numerous poor foreign laborers in debt to repay loans up to $20,000 in order to have the right to work with weekly re payments averaging $ 150-$220. This revolved around loan sharks and syndicated recruitment agents in the Philippines and Australia who charge 40% interest rates. Repayments that exceeded the amounts which visa holders can afford to bring home to their families have been processed with the participation of some employers although a placement fee more than one month’s salary is considered not legal in the Philippines.
AMWU ordered for the investigation of these matters and stated that the pieces of evidence found are already on the tip of the iceberg. One South Australian case has been reported wherein Filipino tradesman were forced to sign a contract prior to their departure.It warned them that they could be punished for participating in union activities. Officers of AMWU in Western and South Australia have revealed cases of exploitations committed to Filipino workers.
The usual loans are between $13,000-$17,000. The said amount is equivalent to five and ten years of salary for metalworkers in the Philippines, with loan repayments covering a quarter of the visa holders’ Australian wage.
In one case, an Australian agent was partnered with a Philippine-based recruitment firm to attract laborers, who were ordered to pay expensive fees. They were also compelled to sign loan contracts through a Queensland based company in order to finance their fees.
One of the victims was Anthony Naupan, he was informed that he could not go to Australia unless he would sign a contract of loan for $13,620 wtih 48% interest. The said amount was used to pay $4,160 to the loan company in Queensland, $5,600 for the Australian agent and $3,860 for the Filipino partner.
He was one of the workers who received assistance from AMWU, and was provided with a stable job in Whyalla.