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Foreign student workers exploited and 'grossl -

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ASHLEY HALL: Fresh allegations that foreign workers are being exploited have been made this week in
a report by two Melbourne universities.

The report's authors claim international students working part-time are being grossly underpaid,
and they're urging both State and Federal Governments to improve safeguards.

In Melbourne, Nick Parkin reports.

(sound of busy restaurant)

NICK PARKIN: The hospitality industry is where many of Australia's new arrivals find work.

It's a particularly attractive industry for international students, as work hours can fit around
study and only a basic knowledge of English is required.

But it seems many of the student workers are getting a raw deal.

Sabrina Woon is a chemical engineering student from China. She spent four months working part time
at a Chinese restaurant in Melbourne.

SABRINA WOON: The boss asked me to be there at five to set up the place and I would start working
at six.

NICK PARKIN: And how much did they pay you?

SABRINA WOON: Around five, I guess, $5 or $6 an hour.

NICK PARKIN: Was everybody getting paid around that much?

SABRINA WOON: Yeah, around that much except for those who worked there for quite a long time, then
they got, like, higher pay but still I think it is not really bit much.

NICK PARKIN: Bijay Janardhanan is an Indian aerospace engineering student. He was exploited in a
different industry.

BIJAY JANARDHANAN: It was construction; we were building a house for someone.

NICK PARKIN: How much did they pay you?

BIJAY JANARDHANAN: Supposed to be paying us $12 an hour, but I didn't actually get paid for the
work that I did and when I went and asked him he said, "You didn't show up on time and your work
was shoddy", and stuff like that whereas I always showed up on time and I did proper work.

NICK PARKIN: How long were you there for?

BIJAY JANARDHANAN: I was there for about a month.

NICK PARKIN: And you didn't get paid once?


NICK PARKIN: Did this construction company, did they hire mostly international students?

BIJAY JANARDHANAN: There was just two of us that were hired for the construction job. Both of us
didn't get paid and we were both international students, yeah.

NICK PARKIN: These stories no longer surprise Professor Chris Nyland from Monash University.

He co-authored a recent study by Monash and Melbourne Universities, which found nearly 60 per cent
of international students were being paid less than the minimum wage - often less than $10 an hour.

He says the problem is growing and wants students to get the same level of protection that skilled
migrant workers receive.

CHRIS NYLAND: We have a current situation that contrasts markedly with 457 visas. With 457 visas we
bring in skilled labour and skilled labour has a much greater ability to compete in the labour
market, but even so, we surround their employment with a whole number of protections and I would
like to see a body of regulations that would fulfil the same type of role as attaches to 457 visas.

NICK PARKIN: Professor Nyland says he's approached both the Federal and Victorian Governments about
this proposal.

So far, he's heard nothing from Canberra, but says the Victorian Government is aiming to set up a
taskforce to look at issues facing foreign students.

This will include an investigation into workplace exploitation.

Both the Federal and Victorian ministers declined to be interviewed.

But in a statement, the Federal Workplace Relations Minister, Julia Gillard, says the Immigration
Department is aware of the concerns and would be making changes over the next two years.

For Sabrina Woon, the Chinese chemical engineering student, the changes needs to come now.

She wants to find an honest Australian employer.

SABRINA WOON: Yeah, if I am given the opportunity I will look for other work, but depends on
whether employers want to hire international students and give them a chance.

ASHLEY HALL: International student Sabrina Woon, ending Nick Parkin's report.