Thousands to protest against foreign workers

Unions in WA are hoping to attract thousands to protests across the state opposing the introduction of enterprise migration agreements on mining projects.

The protests will be held in Perth, Karratha, and Port Hedland today, and will push for higher Government commitments to training.

CFMEU national secretary Michael O'Connor told reporters yesterday Australia needed to "maximise the benefit" of the boom by training locals to take work in the industry.

"We need to be training our local kids to meet those shortages first and foremost," he said.

Since the announcement of EMAs earlier this year the CFMEU has voiced strong opposition to the policy.

In a resolution published last month it said it acknowledged the contribution of migrants to the industry and union but said more effort needed to be made to employ Australians first.

"The union makes no apology for advocating the principle that employers should be compelled to offer jobs to Australian citizens and residents, and to demonstrate that no qualified Australian workers are available before seeking temporary overseas workers," it said.

"Resource and construction companies must provide more apprenticeships and training to young Australians."

The move comes as the state Labor Opposition vows to introduce legislation to make sure more engineering and manufacturing work on resources projects is awarded to local firms.

The policy has been proposed by WA Labor for over 12 months, and a similar proposal for transparency in local content was voted down last year.

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