457 visa ‘victims’ lobby government to fix scheme

A Filipino national working on a 457 visa who was allegedly forced to pay back half his wage to his employer every week will be one of two people speaking out about the visa scheme in Canberra today.

Jessie Cayanan, a Filipino welder and former worker at Glenroy Exhaust, and Ben Loeve, a sacked worker from Downer EDI’s site in Boggabri will head to Canberra today to lobby MPs to reform the 457 visa scheme.

According to a release on the CFMEU’s site, Cayanan was made to withdraw $520 from the ATM every week and give it to his employer. Cayann alleges he was told that if he complained he would be sent back home.

While Loeve was left without a job after Downer EDI cut jobs last month, however the former fitter is angry that the company kept six workers on 457 visas.

The CFMEU said both workers will meet politicians, speak in a press conference and use their experiences to call on MPs to stop the abuses of 457 visas.

In early March the union claimed polling revealed 89 per cent of Australians believe that that mining companies should look for local workers before employing foreign workers on 457 visas.

In addition, 77 per cent of the population supports the Federal Government’s crackdown on rorting of the visa system.

Following a rise in the visas over the last year and claims of abuse within the system, Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced that her government intends to tighten the use of the visas and aims to put “Aussie jobs first”.

The government changes are to include a requirement for employers to demonstrate a genuine shortage of potential employees before nominating positions for 457 visas and raising the English language requirements for certain positions.

In addition, they would enact stronger compliance and enforcement powers to stop employers who routinely abuse the 457 system.

CFMEU assistant national secretary Dave Noonan said recent polling showed widespread opposition to the 457 scheme.

“We need legislation that forces employers to be honest and accountable to skilled Australians who are looking for work. If there is a genuine shortage proven, then and only then, can employers take this route; as a safeguard against systemic abuse of these vulnerable guest workers,” Noonan said.

“It seems no matter whether you are in regional Queensland or NSW, or urban centers in South Australia or Victoria, for most Australians there is a strong level of concern about the 457 program and a sense that it is not working either for the foreign workers or for Australians.

“People don’t like the scheme, they think that apprenticeships and jobs for young Australians should be the priority.  Politicians of all persuasions need to look outside the Canberra bubble and listen to the people on this issue.”

Image: designbuildsource.com.au

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