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October 27, 2015

Labor calls on the Government to examine whether the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) has sufficient powers and resources to prevent the exploitation of people on temporary work visas, following Baiada’s agreement to compensate their workers for exploitation by labour hire companies.

Allegations of exploitation that have previously been raised include people being underpaid, being refused toilet and drink breaks, being charged exorbitant rates to sleep in an overcrowded house, verbal abuse and threats over visas.

Baiada has agreed to an enforceable undertaking which will ensure workers are compensated for any underpayments since the beginning of the year, however, more needs to be done to examine the extent and nature of this exploitation and how to prevent it, following these dreadful revelations.  

Labor is concerned about inaction in relation to the clear and widespread exploitation of workers in Australia who are on temporary visas and is calling on the Government to strengthen the powers and resources of the Fair Work Ombudsman.


In addition to our longstanding concerns with exploitation of the 457 (temporary skilled visa) program, it is now clear that working holiday visas are being used to import cheap exploitable labour, who aren't having a holiday at all. 

Exploitation of workers on temporary visas hurts those workers, our international reputation and undermines employment opportunities and employment conditions for Australian workers. 

Australia’s work visa program must operate with an assurance to the community that robust safeguards are in place to protect all workers. It must not be used as a back door avenue to source cheap labour and deprive locals from job opportunities.

As a result of these shocking revelations and others, Labor is examining whether the power and resources of our regulators are adequate. We are developing policies that will support local jobs, eliminate the exploitation of visa holders and protect the wages and conditions of all workers in Australia. 

The Abbott-Turnbull Government can't be trusted to act on visa exploitation and protect Australian jobs.