FRESH moves to tighten regulations on immigrant workers filling skills vacancies in Australia have been criticised by a Warrnambool abattoir manager.
Noel Kelson, Midfield’s quality assurance manager, said it was another knee-jerk response by the federal government reacting to exaggerated complaints about abuses of 457 visas.
The Warrnambool-based company has been using the scheme for about eight years to fill vacancies for skilled meatworkers.
Mr Kelson said 19 immigrants who had been recruited to Warrnambool under the scheme had obtained permanent residency status and a further three workers from other countries were under the 457 visa scheme.
“There are any number of examples of how this scheme has been successful,” he said. “By and large there are many people under 457 visas engaged in regional areas in trades which are hard to fill.
“These people are performing very high-level roles.
“Payment for 457 visa holders is at or above industry rates.
“There is no such thing as cheap labour any more.”
Unions have welcomed the government move, claiming it was a step to address rorting in some sectors, particularly the IT industry.
Communications, Electrical, Plumbing Union national secretary Peter Tighe said some employers had used the skilled migration scheme to avoid their obligation to train young Australians.
“Demanding an end to the rorting of 457 visas isn’t about a fear of foreigners, it is about ensuring Australian workplaces are safe, fair, equally-paid environments,” he said.