CFMEU calls for tougher rules for 457 visas

IF the CFMEU has its way, 457 visa holders in Capricornia may have to tell their families overseas to shake a leg and apply sooner rather than later.

The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Environment Union has called for tougher rules in the 457 visa program, with the revelation that a record high number of 457 visa holders are now working in Australia.

The union said the program needed tightening to ensure that Australian workers and young people were given priority over temporary visa workers.

Immigration Department figures released this week showed there were 34,000 visa workers in Queensland at 31 March this year.

CFMEU National Secretary Michael O'Connor said the 457 visa workforce was growing much faster than Australian employment generally, and that was completely unjustifiable in the current jobs climate.

"The Abbott government is allowing too many employers to access 457 visas without any obligation to look for Australian workers first - and young people especially are losing out," Mr O'Connor said.

"Under the Coalition, around two-thirds of all 457 visas are not subject to any employer obligation to advertise the job and test the local labour market. And nearly half of all 457 visas are still going to younger foreign workers aged 30 or less."

Mr O'Connor said the obligation to look for Australian workers first, and prove that none were available, must apply to all employers seeking to get 457 visa workers in all occupations.

The situation in some industries where many young Australians get their start was particularly disturbing in the 457 data just released, Mr O'Connor said.

"The number of 457s working in the Accommodation and Food Services sector has more than doubled in the year to 31 March 2014, - from 8,640 to 13,200 workers. This is an increase of 53%."

"But total employment in that sector has fallen by over 45,000 or 6% in broadly the same period.

"The good news is that 457 visa applications are coming down under the 457 reforms introduced by the previous government. But they are still far too high, given the thousands of Australians looking for jobs."

What is a 457 visa?

  • The Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457) allows skilled workers to come to Australia and work for an approved business for up to four years.
  • You must be sponsored by an approved business. A business can sponsor someone for this visa if they cannot find an Australian citizen or permanent resident to do the skilled work.
  • You can be in or outside Australia when you lodge your application.


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