457 visas 'a form of slavery': Sheldon


ALP national vice president Tony Sheldon says some employers bringing in foreign workers on 457 visas are engaging in "human trafficking" and a "form of slavery", according to The Australian.

Mr Sheldon, who is also the national secretary of the Transport Workers Union, reportedly told the ALP national organisers forum in Canberra that the party must campaign "strong and hard" in support of the government's proposed crackdown on 457 visas.

"457 visa holders have no right to criticise their employers when they are being ripped off or sweated, and no real right to join a union without the employer sacking them," he is quoted as saying.

"And once sacked, they can be deported within 28 days unless they can find another job.

"That's why it's actually no exaggeration to say that for some workers, the 457 visa is a form of slavery.

He also said some companies wanted to bring in workers on 457 visas in order to exploit them.

"If you are trafficking people into this country to exploit them against the standards and ethics, and legal requirements of this country, the appropriate title is human trafficking," he said.

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I guess this is the sort of sensationalist claim that will be able to be made under the new media rules. And employers would not be able to reply and say that the comments relate to a small minority of imported workers. Is McTernan being exploited or is he helping to exploit honest hard working Australians with his political strategy advice to our PM?
Australia is relying more on temporary migration. Such a policy is certain to encourage such temporary workers being ‘treated as second-class workers employed in insecure conditions [and certainly lower earnings] with uncertain futures for themselves and their families.’ As a British trade union official wrote regarding similar issues in the U.K.: "If eastern Europeans are being paid below the minimum wage, it is hardly their fault; the blame lies with employers breaking the law. If they are living in overcrowded expensive sub-standard accommodation, it is the fault of slum landlords who are profiting from their inability to find a decent home. And if they are bussed over from their homes by the promise of good jobs at good wages and end up in jobs where they do not even enjoy legal minimum standards, it is the fault of our system of labour-market regulation [and our politicians’ refusal to fund proper enforcement]." Or, (LIBERAL) Senator Amanda Vanstone in 2006: "2. The incidence of illegal work in Australia is a significant problem that denies Australians the opportunity to gain employment and can result in the exploitation of non citizens. It is also a concern to the Government because of its close association with cash economy industries, which are characterised by abuses of Australia’s tax, employment and welfare laws. 3. The absence of effective penalties for employers of illegal workers also encourages people smuggling and trafficking activities for the purpose of illegal work. Victims of trafficking may be forced to work illegally in conditions of forced labour, sexual servitude or slavery. Bruce should note that s457 visa holders are by definition not Australians, though they are likely to be more honest and hard working than their employer. I presume that the "new media laws" bit was a throwaway line from the latest Liberal Party GHQ media notes, since it is both untrue and irrelevant.
Umm, last time I checked a slave is someone who's considered to be property and can be held against their will and forced to work. I'm pretty sure 457 visa applicants are volunteers. I certainly don't recall the Royal Australian Navy abducting people and forcing them to come here on 457 visa's. I must have missed the news that night. Perhaps Tony Sheldon needs to go back high school and redo 2 unit history. Is Tony Sheldon really the best the ALP could find for a VP? No wonder they're moving toward a landslide in the election.