A poll carried out by the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) has revealed that 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 last week that her government intends to tighten the use of the visas and aims to put “Aussie jobs first”.
CFMEU National Assistant Secretary and head of the Construction Division Dave Noonan called for legislation to ensure an end to abuse of the system.
“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,” he said.
“The CFMEU welcomes the Prime Minister’s acknowledgement of the evidence of the failures of the 457 visa system. 457 visas have shot up 20% over the last year while employment has only grown by 1 per cent.”
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.
Both unions and the Gillard Government have claimed companies have abused the 457 system, but so far no party has released solid evidence to suggest the rorting is widespread.
Under current regulations miners that wish to apply for an enterprise migration agreement must first demonstrate they have made “genuine attempts to recruit Australian workers”.
Miners that are awarded EMAs are also required to develop training and up-skilling plans to help fill future job vacancies.