A lawyer from the National Union of Workers will conduct a Migration Information Session on the evening of 30 September for the aid of temporary workers and sessional workers in the region of Greater Shepparton. A number of wage cases for sessional and temporary worker visa holders in the region have been won for the benefit of workers. This session will also target Arabic-speaking workers.
Sanmati Verma is a migration lawyer who works for the National Union of Workers and has and has done some of these sessions before – so has familiarity with issues surrounding temporary workers.
Particular interest is to listen to and advise on the needs of Arabic speaking workers.
Register your interest in attending this migration information session by contacting Ethnic Council of Shepparton and District: 5831 2395
Previous work by NWU on Seasonal Workers Program:
With changes to the Seasonal Workers Program (SWP) announced in 2015-16, the revised program has increased “flexibility” for employers, to encourage greater participation in the scheme. In reality, this “flexibility” has shifted some costs away from the employer to the overseas worker (for example, an increased share of international airfare and domestic transfer arrangements). The requirement for employers to guarantee a minimum of fourteen weeks has also been removed, even though the Approved Employer must demonstrate that seasonal workers will receive a net financial benefit of at least $1000 from their participation.
Generally, employers have not addressed core problems for women as overseas labour migrants – including workplace sexual harassment and costly childcare – except by segregating women into lower-paying work (such as the packing sheds rather than fruit picking).
SWP workers also face specific vulnerabilities and challenges in exercising their rights due to visa conditions specific to the program. Visa requirements specify that workers may only remain in Australia while they continue to be employed by their sponsor (the Approved Employer) and cannot work for anyone other than their sponsor while in Australia.
In their submissions to the Senate inquiry into the Seasonal Worker Program, both the National Union of Workers (NUW) and the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) reported that workers are fearful of making complaints or taking action against exploitative employers because of concern about retaining their visa. The NUW states that these fears mean that there is “significant risk that problems experienced by workers participating in the scheme are underreported”, while the FWO acknowledges compliance challenges, including “the transient nature of visa holders; language barriers; visa holders’ limited understanding of workplace entitlements; and their concerns about their visa status.”