Working Migrants Still Cheated On Wages

15:12' 22-11-2017
Two years ago, a report by the ABC news program Four Corners led to enquiries by the Fair Work Ombudsman into illegal work practices by businesses employing workers on tourist visas.

    Kết quả hình ảnh cho Working Migrants Still Cheated On Wages

    Photo: express.co.uk

    The practices included underpayment of wage entitlements, and false records of hours of work and rates of pay. Since then, a number of franchise owners have been sent to court, but a recent report suggests major problems still exist for migrant workers.

    Wage Theft in Australia, a joint report by the University of new South Wales and the University of Technology, Sydney, reveals that one in three international students and backpackers are only paid about half the legal minimum wage.

    The report, by senior law lecturers Laurie Berg and Bassina Farbenblum, is based on survey responses from 4,322 temporary migrants from 107 countries. It is the first study of its kind in Australia.

    The survey was available in English and 12 other languages, and focused on the lowest paid job held by the participants. A little over half were international students, most enrolled at a university. The rest were backpackers on working holidays or tourists.

    A quarter of all international students, and a third of backpackers, earned $12 per hour or less, while almost half earned $15 or less in their lowest paid job. The national minimum wage is $18.29 per hour.

    Workers from Asian countries including China, Taiwan and Vietnam received lower wage rates than those from North America, Ireland and the UK. Chinese workers were more likely to be paid in cash.

    One of the authors, Bassina Farbenblum, said the majority of international students and backpackers knew they were underpaid, but “believe few people on their visa expect to receive the legal minimum wage”.

    The wage theft was common in agricultural work, because visitors on a working holiday visa must spend 88 days in rural industries to be eligible for a second year of their visa. For almost 40% of students and backpackers, their lowest paid job was in a cafe, restaurant or takeaway.

    In 91 cases, employers confiscated passports, 173 respondents were forced to pay “deposits” of up to $1000 to secure a job, and 112 had been asked to pay money back to their employer in cash after receiving their wages. Nearly half were paid in cash, and about the same amount never received a payslip.

    At the end of last year, the Federal Government passed a bill for a 15% “backpacker tax” for tourists on 412 visas, supported by One Nation and independent SA Senator Nick Xenophon. Some employers in rural industries feared that the tax would drive tourist workers away, or lead to dodgy contracts by some employers, desperate to harvest their crops on time. This can only be done if workers are paid in cash, without records.

    Ms Farbenblum says the study raises urgent concerns about the actions and resourcing required of government, business, unions and other service providers to address the scale of the problem.

    Thuy P

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Keywords: tourist visaswagesworking migrants

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