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Minister welcomes fine for migrant worker exploitation.

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Senator Chris Evans Minister for Immigration and Citizenship

Minister welcomes fine for migrant worker exploitation

Wednesday 2 July 2008

The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, has welcomed a $100 000 fine imposed on a Victorian packaging company for exploiting migrant employees.

The Broadmeadows Magistrates’ Court in Victoria today fined Lakeside Packaging Pty Ltd for seven breaches of the Victorian workplace safety laws following a complaint by two migrant workers on 457 (temporary skilled migration) visas.

The court fined Lakeside for failing to provide a safe workplace and failing to provide structure, instruction, training and supervision in a language understood by the employees, between March and September 2006.

‘This penalty should send a strong reminder to all employers that our health and safety laws apply equally to migrant workers as they do to Australian workers,’ Senator Evans said.

‘The vast majority of employers do the right thing but when foreign workers employed on 457 visas are being exploited, it undermines confidence in the program.

‘Exploitation of migrant workers is totally unacceptable and rogue employers should expect authorities to come down hard on them.

‘The Rudd Government recognises that we need a strong temporary and permanent skilled migration program to meet the demands of a booming economy. The exploitation of migrant workers will not be tolerated.’

Senator Evans said that the Department of Immigration and Citizenship had also imposed a sanction on Lakeside Packaging preventing the company from accessing the 457 program for one year for breach of their sponsorship undertakings for failing to pay the Minimum Salary Level.

Further sanctions may now be imposed on Lakeside Packaging for breach of the sponsorship undertakings, subject to today’s outcome.

Sanctions may include cancelling Lakeside Packaging’s current sponsorship agreement and/or barring them from accessing the subclass 457 program to sponsor temporary skilled overseas workers for up to five years.

Senator Evans said the Rudd Government plans to introduce new laws in September to strengthen measures to help prevent the exploitation of temporary skilled foreign workers and ensure the wages and conditions of Australian workers are not undercut.

The Minister released a discussion paper this week seeking stakeholder feedback on the proposed reforms to the 457 visa regime following the $19.6 million commitment in the 2008-09 Budget to improve the processing and compliance of the scheme.