457 visa adverts under scrutiny

Unions in Australia are considering taking legal action against Australian employers who advertise jobs online specifically targeting temporary foreign workers.

Trade union leaders say the adverts, which appear on websites such as seek.com.au and Gumtree, are discriminatory as they state they are only looking to hire foreign workers, therefore automatically ruling out anyone living in Australia.

Led by the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), the unions have called on the Victorian Equal Opportunity Commission to open an investigation into the adverts, in the wake of data that shows for each job vacancy in Victoria there are six applicants. According to a new report, Victoria’s jobs market is the least promising in the country.

“Denying a large class of persons the right to apply for a job on the basis of race, especially given the weak job market in Victoria, is a very serious matter that would undermine key objectives of the [Equal Opportunity] Act,” explained Michael O’Connor, the CFMEU national secretary.

O’Connor also highlighted his belief that recent government plans to make it easier for Oz-based employers to hire overseas workers would be completely unnecessary.

“The mining and construction boom has come to an end, lots of jobs are now gone, and there are more jobs to go in the auto industry… it beggars belief that the government would make it even easier for employers to bypass qualified local workers,” he said. This completely invalidates the point of 457 visas, which were created to fill short-term skill shortages when they arose in the labour market.”

A spokeswoman for the Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission toldTheage.com.au that the unions’ request to investigate the alleged discriminatory adverts was under consideration and that a decision would be announced soon.