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Renewed concerns over foreign students -

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ELEANOR HALL: They're underpaid, overworked and over here, and the Education Minister Julia Gillard
says she's increasingly concerned about the number of international students who are exploited in
the workplace.

But student groups say that the Government must bear some responsibility for that, as Timothy
McDonald reports.

TIMOTHY MCDONALD: International student groups recently met with the Government on a range of
issues, but for the Education Minister Julia Gillard, one stuck out.

JULIA GILLARD: I want to pinpoint one concern that was raised at the round table and appears in
submissions to the Senate Inquiry into the Welfare of International Students, and that's the
alleged exploitation of international students in the workplace.

The Government has put in place laws that protect the rights of all workers and we will not
tolerate employee exploitation.

TIMOTHY MCDONALD: Troy Burton is the National Assistant Secretary for the Liquor Hospitality and
Miscellaneous workers' Union. He says students usually don't come to the union to complain because
they're too afraid. He says the result is that exploitation continues.

TROY BURTON: There's terrible stories. We have a Chinese chef in Brisbane who's brought over on
student visa being told he had to work nine hours for free before they, as part of their
arrangements.

We have regularly come across people working for contract cleaners getting paid less than $10 an
hour cash in hand, working long hours or short shifts all over the place.

TIMOTHY MCDONALD: International student groups also say the problem is rife.

Gautam Gupta is from the Federation of Indian Students of Australia.

GAUTAM GUPTA: Quite a lot; quite a lot. It's become a very, it is a common issue. We get about
three to four complaints a week about underpaid and that sort of stuff; underpayment or no payment
at all.

People are, employers are forcing them to work for like a week or two weeks under the guise of
training and never pay them.

TIMOTHY MCDONALD: Ms Gillard says it shouldn't happen at all. She says the Government is doing its
best to make sure labour laws are observed.

JULIA GILLARD: The Office of the Fair Work Ombudsman does a great deal to inform workers, including
foreign workers, of these arrangements and of their rights.

International students should not feel coerced to work under arrangements that provide less than
Australians would expect in similar circumstances.

TIMOTHY MCDONALD: But student groups say there's a serious power disparity between student workers
and employers.

Most students are allowed to work 20 hours a week, but sometimes the employer demands more or it
just becomes too difficult to make ends meet in Australia's expensive cities.

Gautam Gupta says the employer can use this to threaten student workers and they often fear
deportation if they speak up.

GAUTAM GUPTA: If they get caught they are deported. If they are deported really they have lost all
$50,000. That's a huge price to pay for that.

What happens to the employer? Nothing; maybe a slap on the wrist.

TIMOTHY MCDONALD: The LHMU says maybe the 20-hour limit itself is the problem. Troy Burton says
it's widely ignored anyway, makes it difficult for students to make ends meet and makes them more
vulnerable as well.

TROY BURTON: The regulation is not working. Trying to limit people to 20 hours a week makes it very
difficult for them to live on, particularly when they're vulnerable anyway. And it's just being
systematically exploited. Students are working a lot more than 20 hours a week and we hope that
that's going to be reviewed.

ELEANOR HALL: That's Troy Burton from the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous workers' Union
ending that report from Timothy McDonald.