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Article

Commentary: Visa conditions of migrant workers in Australia's agriculture industry make them vulnerable to exploitation

"Sexual assault, lost fingers: exploitation in an industry rotten to the core", 11 October 2020

[...]

In 2010, I came to Australia from Taiwan as a working holidaymaker and began work in an apple-packing shed in Shepparton. [...] I was paid about $13 per hour — below the legal minimum. From that $13 per hour, the labour hire provider took 13 per cent in fees and charges that I later discovered were unlawful. [...]

[...] The three sexual assaults I personally took to the police on behalf of friends have still never been acted upon [...].

Workers are still denied medical care when they are injured [...]. A man I know lost three fingers in a meat grinder [....]

[...] [T]he Refugee Council of Australia put forward a proposal to grant permanent visas to people seeking asylum in exchange for a year picking fruit. Clearly, Australia is prepared to consider any solution to the agricultural labour shortage except a market one – improving conditions and pay.

[...]

But the industry is rotten at its core. Government and industry have colluded to design visa conditions that prevent migrant workers from establishing links in Australia – requiring us to move every six months.

Unfair dismissal provisions, including those that protect whistle-blowers, apply only after a probationary period of six months which we are specifically prohibited from completing [...]. When we return home, we abandon all hope of recovering unpaid wages because the Fair Entitlements Guarantee that protects Australian workers does not extend to us.

[...]

Australians can stand up against those who would distort markets and wear down rights for their own profit – and call out the diversionary tactics they use. This is your country, but we also have a stake in what you choose to do.