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Posts Tagged ‘immigration’

John Sutton, secretary of the CFMEU, has an opinion article in today’s SMH, taking the government to task for its immigration policy.

Sutton spends most of the piece essentially blaming underemployment on what he seems to consider to be the government’s far-too-lenient approach to letting employers employ people from overseas.

But honestly, I would have thought this – Sutton’s second-last paragraph – was the real problem, if it’s widespread:

Among the cocktail of abuses discovered were sham subcontracting, no workers’ compensation insurance coverage, no award conditions, no superannuation and rates of pay barely half what they were entitled to.

If this is the real problem, then cracking down on unscrupulous employers who do these things to immigrant workers may result in employers not really caring whether they employ immigrants or locals.

So in other words, perhaps it’s less about the government policy that Sutton is writing about, and more about the actions of the employers which are illegal and in total contravention of that policy.

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I don’t usually post GetUp links, because most of them are about current issues and I generally assume that most people who want to hear about them, will.

However, something that is not so much of a current issue is the mandatory detention of asylum seekers.

According to GetUp, the Federal Government has established an inquiry into mandatory immigration detention.

Getup is looking for 10 000 signatures on an urgent petition.

Just thought I’d let you know.

ETA: target is now 20 000 – they are currently over 17 500.

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Although there is the occasional story about immigration that makes me feel happy, the unfortunate truth is that many, many more make me deeply sad.

Like this one about Mr Zhang, a Chinese schoolteacher who claimed to have been involved in the Tiananmen Square protest in 1989, who sought asylum in Australia, who was not believed by the decision-makers, and who was sent back to China last year.

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Civil disobedience, community style.

The estate became home for hundreds of families escaping persecution and torture in places such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Algeria, Uganda and Congo. Most had their request for asylum in the UK turned down, and when the Home Office began coming to the estate at 5am to remove them, Donnachie and the rest of the residents looked on in horror. “It was like watching the Gestapo – men with armour, going in to flats with battering rams. I’ve never seen people living in fear like it,” says Donnachie. “I saw a man jump from two storeys up when they came for him and his family. I stood there and I cried, and I said to myself, ‘I am not going to stand by and watch this happen again.'”

She got together with her friend Noreen and organised the residents into daily dawn patrols, looking out for immigration vans. When the vans arrived, a phone system would swing in to action, warning asylum seekers to escape.

The whole estate pitched in, gathering in large crowds in the early-morning dark to jeer at immigration officials as they entered the tower blocks. On more than one occasion, the vans left the estate empty – the people they had come for had got out in time and were hidden by the crowd. The estate kept this up for two years until forced removals stopped. [my emphasis]

It’s not clear whether it was the community action which directly caused the end of the forced removals, but my guess is that it made some contribution.

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Good news!

I first heard about this story a couple of months ago. Two men had come to Australia from China on 457 visas (a visa which allows employers to sponsor foreign workers, I think on a temporary basis). The 457 scheme has certain protections in place for workers, such as a minimum wage. Their employer had put the money in bank accounts for them and, according to the two men, had taken it out again. The employer had also provided them with accommodation. When they complained, they were sacked, and thrown out of the accommodation.

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