Caps on Subclass 457 set to be removed

The Coalition government is pressing ahead with its promise to cut union rate tape on 457 visas. The ABC reports that the government has lifted the cap on sponsors that was introduced by the previous labour government.

The sc457 visa is designed to be responsive to employer needs for workers in particular industries and regions. Before the last election, the unions and the previous government claimed that there was widespread abuse of the program and as such foreigners were being favoured over Australians.

Under union pressure labour had introduced a series of measures which made it more difficult for employers to hire foreign workers. Among them was a cap on the number of approved nominations for sponsors.

Under the changes, employers are expected to be allowed to hire ‘any number of workers’ provided the relevant nomination, sponsorship and visa criteria are properly met. Details of the changes are expected to be released later today by the office of Senator Michaelia Cash, Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women.

The Migration Alliance welcomes the changes. The sc457 has to be driven by the findings of the Australian Productivity Commission as well as industry bodies who are in tune with actual needs of employers. The changes will help lower employment costs by removing unnecessary red-tape and as such help expanding businesses meet their needs for skilled workers more quickly. Strong and growing local businesses will help increase employment opportunities in Australia.”

The Australian Mines and Metals Association when commenting on the changes last year, characterised the 2013 amendments to the sc457 program as , “cynical and opportunistic, and some of the argument from supporters of labour market testing as bordering on xenophobia.”

Unions maintain that the cap is necessary to protect Australian workers at a time of high domestic unemployment rates. “What we are seeing is massive job losses in Australian manufacturing, and in mining, construction and services and at the same time the government is opening the flood gates for a larger number of temporary overseas workers,” said the CFMEU’s Dave Noonan in an interview with the ABC. Mr Noonan stated that the union is not against migration but is against the shift to temporary migration as it believes this has serious consequences for Australian workers, as it undermines job security; and for temporary migrants, as they will be inherently vulnerable to exploitation.

 

Source: Migration Alliance

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