A new poll by an Australian migrants rights NGO has revealed that a substantial number of migrants find themselves in precarious work situations due to discrimination by businesses. Despite being authorized to work in Australia, even highly qualified migrants are turned down for jobs and forced instead to take up employment where they may be in harm’s way – either dangerous work or employers.
Many are unpaid and exploited by employers who know that they cannot land better jobs elsewhere.
The Guardian reports,
The Migrant Workers Centre surveyed more than 1,000 workers in Australia about their experiences in the job market and migration system, and found many migrants experienced discrimination in job application processes because of their visa status, despite having work rights, which pushed them towards insecure work and exploitative employers.
Job insecurity was strongly correlated with feeling unsafe in the workplace, with 59% of workers in precarious employment feeling always or often unsafe at work.
Of those who experienced wage theft, only 26% were able to recoup their stolen wages. Wage-theft practices included paying low rates cash-in-hand, not paying penalty rates for weekend or after-hours work, and illegal unpaid “trial” shifts.
Anti-migrant sentiment contributing to exploitation
Some migrants point to anti-migrant sentiment further inflamed by discriminatory rhetoric from Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Additionally, the process to get certified skills recognized by Australian employers is complicated.
One Chilean physiotherapist with eight years of professional experience found himself in Australia doing construction work, cleaning, and plumbing. He told the Guardian, “Sometimes I was doing things that were not supposed to be done by me. Sometimes in construction they were asking me to do demolition jobs – which is a specialised job and should be paid accordingly. And they were asking me to do it as a labourer. Someone was getting paid that money, but it wasn’t me.”
Not only was he not being paid fully for his work but he was made to work in situations he was unskilled and unfamiliar with – a dangerous combination.
Join the Safe Migration campaign
Hostile immigration policies perpetuate modern slavery and exploitation in various ways.
The Freedom United community is urging governments worldwide, including Australia, to enact laws and policies that protect migrants from modern slavery risks and other exploitative situations. In order to protect human rights and uphold global norms, immigration laws must prioritize these values.
Join us today! Sign the petition and stand up for migrants.