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Victimisation of 417 visa holders

Victimisation of 417 visa holders (Last Updated On: June 24, 2015)

The ABC’s 7.30 program recently aired a story relating to AWX Labour Hire and Baiada Poultry and their apparent mistreatment of international workers on a 417 working holiday visa. The day following this report, Fair Work Ombudsman was investigating AWX in regards to these allegations of ‘gross underpayments and forcing young international workers to sign documents waiving their workplace rights’.

A more detailed account shows that AWX have been accused of forcing these 417 workers to sign forms title ‘Voluntary Agreement to Undertake Overtime’ stipulating that workers agree to overtime as their ‘normal’ rate of pay.

One victim claimed she was ‘recruited’ by AWX from her home country where she then outlaid ‘$300 to do a training course in Sydney prior to commencing work at a meatworks in regional NSW’. She went on to mention that, ‘training involved three weeks of unsupervised work for up to 11 hours a day with no pay or entitlements’. Once the job commenced she was paid less than $17 an hour and forced, via threats that she would be sent back home, to sign the above mentioned overtime form.

AWX has denied all these claims and states all their workers are paid according to our statutory requirements. A spokesperson for AWX rebukes the 7.30 report stating; ‘it was incorrect and didn’t give a fair or balanced account of our operations’.

Baiada, a well-known poultry producer, was also named and shamed in this report, and not for the first time.

Fair Work Ombudsman has investigated Baiada previously where it released a scathing report on their workplace practices. The findings concluded that 417 workers were ‘not being paid, forced to work extremely long hours and required to pay excessive rent for employee accommodation that was deemed overcrowded and unsafe’.

Fair Work Ombudsman, Natalie James last week stated ‘Fair Work will be perusing all the legal action we are able to, which includes working with the Australian Taxation Office and Australian Securities and Investments Commission’.

“We will work our way up and down the supply chain in pursuit of those who are flouting workplace laws to ensure workers are being paid properly and treated fairly, and where necessary, consider legal action where appropriate,” another spokesperson states.

Investigations into AWX and Baiada continue.

If you have any queries surrounding the entitlements of working-holiday visa holders, please contact Employsure on 1300 651 415.


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