Protecting work rights of temporary and migrant workers must be a federal election priority

30 March 2016
Maurice Blackburn Lawyers have today called for all sides of politics to prioritise strengthening the workplace rights of temporary and migrant workers in the coming federal election campaign, in light of findings from a recent Senate Committee report that looked at the exploitation of temporary work visa holders.

Maurice Blackburn Principal Giri Sivaraman, who is assisting hundreds of underpaid and exploited 7-Eleven workers nation-wide, said the systemic poor treatment of temporary and migrant workers in Australia could no longer be ignored by the Federal Government.

“Temporary and migrant worker exploitation has been a very significant issue in Australia for too long,” Mr Sivaraman said.

“We are continuing to hear stories of extreme cases of exploitation and underpayment occurring right across the country and this has been further confirmed with the release earlier this month of a Senate Committee report that has made a series of worthwhile recommendations to improve the industry.

“This includes developing information campaigns for temporary visa workers on workplace rights and also funding for information and education aimed at improving protection of workplace rights for temporary migrant workers – both of which we have repeatedly called for in light of the 7-Eleven scandal.

“The Committee’s recommendation of a licensing regime for labour hire contractors is also welcome – this is a critical measure that will help ensure the financial stability of labour hire providers in meeting obligations to their workers as well as helping to ensure labour hire providers are better able to meet workplace health and safety needs.

“The Committee also should be commended for recommending the identities of workers who report exploitation should not be provided to the Department of Immigration, something we know again was a key issue in 7-Eleven workers being reluctant to come forward.

“All of these recommendations are long overdue, the time for debate of these issues has passed and the evidence is now overwhelming that this is a major problem that can no longer be ignored in Australia.

“This must be a key federal election issue for all sides of politics.

“Federal Labor have already made a series of commitments to address this issue and the Greens have also tabled legislation in a bid to address underpayments. We again now call on all sides of politics to take this issue seriously, and get on with the job of improving workplace rights for temporary and migrant workers once and for all,” he said.

Practice Areas: