Union demands review of Australia's 457 visa process

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A review of Australian immigration's 457 visa is expected to happen later this year following complaints from the Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union (AMWU) that the process used to grant visas is flawed. Australia's manufacturing industry relies heavily on foreign workers, however, the ANWU says that some foreign workers are being exploited. It should be noted that the Australian economy is doing well and that in general salary rates are very good.

Last November, the AMWU made a statement to Australia's Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) demanding an overhaul of the consultation process for employers who seek to hire overseas workers on 457 visas. The AMWU claimed the process failed to genuinely test labour conditions.

"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," said AMWU National President Paul Bastian. "As it currently stands there is little to no consultation. DIAC need to facilitate that process, with all consultation going through their office."

Under the current process, all employers seeking access to a 457 visa labour agreement are required to consult with unions about introducing foreign workers into their industry.
Unions have claimed that their responses to those meetings have been ignored or not followed up by the employer.

In general foreign workers in Australia on 457 visas are paid well and emigrate to Australia for higher wages. The average salary for those working in Australia is now around GBP35,000 (about 52,000 Australian dollars). There has recently been a large increase in foreign workers in Australia especially in the mining industry which is currently facing a skills shortage. This has meant upwards pressure on salary rates.

The positive aspects of immigration are that it enables companies to deal with skills shortages and remittances sent home also helps the economies of the home Countries of immigrants that are frequently not as prosperous as Australia.

DIAC is expected to announce their review of the 457 visa program early this year.

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