Migrant Workers Conditions

In industries such as the cleaning industry, migrant workers work under poor conditions,
and they are often exploited by their employers. In some areas of Australia, migrant workers
also deal with the issue of wage theft. This is a very serious issue under employment law.
Wage theft happens when the employer fails to pay or underpays workers for the services
that they offer. It also includes paying low rates through cash-in-hand, or not paying
additional amounts for overtime work including weekends or after-hours work.
Wage theft can happen to anyone, but migrant workers are often more vulnerable and
often face such employment related issues. By law, workers with valid work visas have same
working rights and legal entitlements as Australian permanent residents or citizens.
However, many employers are biased, and they do not offer employment to those with
working visas. This leads to disadvantage not just for the worker, but also for Australian
society as they are unable to utilise the talents and skills of these skilled workers who come
from overseas.
Migrant Workers in Australia
It is not just the issue of wage theft and poor working conditions that migrants are forced to
deal with. There is also the issue of reduced job security because of their visa status. Some
employers refuse to employ skilled migrants unless they have permanent residency.
This puts migrant workers at a disadvantage as majority of them come on temporary visas
and transition from temporary to permanent visas after coming onshore. The process of
transitioning from temporary visas to permanent visas is not a short one.
Moreover, migrant workers with Australian work experience gain additional points towards
permanent residency. But because of their temporary visa, they find it hard to obtain this
much needed onshore work experience. Therefore, this becomes a vicious cycle.
It also results in many skilled works from overseas having to take up low-paying casual jobs
where the employers exploit them by engaging in wage theft.
A recent article published on The Guardian reports that many migrant workers also work in
unsafe conditions because of the lack of an alternative. It is not just unsafe working
conditions, but they are also subjected to discrimination, bullying and verbal abuse.

While Australia is a migrant-friendly country that has a diverse community of individuals and
cultures, these issues that skilled migrant workers face are still prevalent. The important
thing is for Australian employers to realise the value of the expertise and skills that overseas
workers can offer.
They must be able to overcome these prejudices and be willing to give overseas skilled
workers a chance to demonstrate their ability. It is necessary to make these changes in our
approach towards skilled migrant workers to truly enhance the Australian spirit of
embracing diversity.

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