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Meat industry employers warned over foreign labour.

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Senator Chris Evans Minister for Immigration and Citizenship

Meat industry employers warned over foreign labour

Monday 22 September 2008

The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, says the Rudd Government will not tolerate employers continuing to access foreign workers on temporary skilled migration (subclass 457) visas while denying local workers job opportunities.

Senator Evans issued the warning after concerns were raised that local workers were being denied shifts at a meatworks in Dinmore, Queensland.

‘We want to send a clear message to employers that the temporary skilled migration scheme is not to be used to employ foreign workers over local people,’ Senator Evans said.

‘The subclass 457 visa scheme is a skilled migration program designed to assist employers to meet skills shortages when local workers cannot be sourced.

‘If an employer has local skilled people willing to work more shifts then clearly, they do not have a shortage of skills.’

Department of Immigration officials are scheduled to hold talks with the employer, Swift Australia, in Dinmore tomorrow (Tuesday) to ensure company is not denying local workers employment opportunities while seeking to access more overseas workers.

Senator Evans said that Swift Australia must abide by the conditions of the meat industry labour agreement which enables companies to employ foreign workers on subclass 457 visas. Employers must also provide evidence that they continue to exhaust domestic labour opportunities in order to access skilled overseas workers.

‘A condition for access to a meat industry labour agreement is that Australian workers are not displaced or replaced with overseas temporary workers,’ Senator Evans said.

Labour agreement holders such as Swift Australia must also have an effective plan which will, over the term of the agreement, reduce their reliance upon temporary overseas workers, and increase training and employment of Australians.

‘Any employers found to be in breach of the conditions of the meat industry labour agreement can be denied further access to subclass 457 visas,’ Senator Evans said.

‘We are committed to a strong temporary skilled migration program but need to ensure the integrity of the system.

‘We also need to ensure we continue to provide employment and training opportunities for Australian workers.’