Sign-on statement: Migrant workers don’t take jobs – Oppose Turnbull’s racism

Stand up for migrant workers’ rights – Oppose Turnbull’s racism

Please read this statement and consider signing on (see below)

Malcolm Turnbull’s recently announced changes restricting temporary work visas and further tightening the citizenship application process are an effort to mimic US President Donald Trump and use racism to boost the government’s declining electoral support.

We the undersigned oppose the Turnbull government’s decision to scrap 457 visas and restrict the rights of migrant workers.

The restrictions will discriminate against migrant workers and leave them even more vulnerable to exploitation. Increased English language requirements and a mandatory criminal check for temporary workers only fan racist prejudices, as do new citizenship test questions that suggest migrants oppose women’s equality or support child abuse.

Turnbull’s new Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) visas to replace 457s make migrant workers even more vulnerable. The TSS visas will increase the barriers to permanent residency. Workers on the new four-year TSS will have to wait three years instead of two years to apply for residency. The new two-year TSS will operate as a “guest worker” scheme, with no rights to residency at all.

All temporary visas can lead to hyper-exploitation because employers have the power to determine whether workers can remain in the country. If they are sacked, 457 workers have only 60 days to find a new job or they face deportation. But union organisation of temporary visa workers can protect their rights, including the right to residency, and defend industry conditions for all.

Migrant workers don’t take jobs

Turnbull’s “Australian jobs, Australian values” slogan is a disgraceful attempt by an unpopular government to blame migrant workers for unemployment.

There is no relationship whatsoever between levels of migration and levels of unemployment. Migrants consume goods and services like everyone else, helping to create jobs. 457 visa holders are far less than 1 per cent of the workforce.

Tragically, by calling for further restrictions on the rights of workers to come to Australia, the ACTU, some affiliate unions and the Labor Party have reinforced the idea that foreign workers are to blame.

The union demand ‘Aussie jobs for Aussie workers’ alienates and scapegoats migrant workers. Twenty-eight per cent of the Australian population was born overseas. We can’t build united, strong unions with a campaign that divides the workforce.

The campaign for ‘Aussie jobs’ has done nothing to actually stop job losses. But it has given more oxygen to Turnbull and One Nation to attack foreign workers.

It is Turnbull and big business that are causing job losses, not migrants. Since 2013 the Coalition government has cut 15,000 public service jobs and another 4000 are threatened with the May budget. Thousands of jobs were lost when the major car companies closed the car plants. It is the employers, Australian bosses included, that cut wages and conditions like penalty rates and outsource and casualise the workforce to exploit Australian and migrant workers alike.

To build unity against the government and the employers we need to welcome workers on any kind of visa into our unions and make the right to permanent residency for all migrant workers a central demand.

There are many examples in our history of migrant workers leading strikes. Workers on different kinds of visas are already part of our unions, actively involved in the collective struggles to defend conditions and union rights. There are recent examples of unions organising and defending 457 visa holders from exploitation. This is the kind of action the union movement should build on.

We call on the ACTU and affiliated unions to:

i) Oppose the Turnbull government’s changes to temporary work visas and the new rules for the citizenship applications. Demand rights to permanent residency for all migrant workers.

ii) Drop the ‘Aussie jobs for Aussie workers’ slogan and begin a real fight for ‘Union Jobs For All’ – a campaign against closures and casualisation, for secure, union jobs that unites all workers, regardless of their national or cultural background.

iii) Oppose discrimination against workers from non-English speaking backgrounds. Demand that translators and paid English language classes are available on the job.

Signatories so far include:
NTEU Branch Committee, RMIT University
Alex Milne, ETU member
Amy Thomas, Casual staff representative, NTEU UTS
Andrew Charles, CPSU BOM
Andrew Martin, RTBU member
Anthea Vogl, NTEU member, UTS Faculty of Law
Bill Dunn, NTEU member and Associate Professor, Political Economy, University of Sydney
Blair Vidakovich, RAFFWU Causal Member
Brett Cardinal, ETU member, Brisbane
Caitlin Doyle-Markwick, NTEU member UNSW
Chiu Ling Lin, NSWTF member
Chorng Wei Leu, NSWTF member
Chris Breen, AEU Delegate at Hume Central SC Blair St Campus
Christine Donayre, USU member, APA (NSW) member
Claire Nemorin
Claire Parfitt, NTEU member University of Sydney
Claudia Gonzales, NTEU – Adult Community Education Branch President (VIC)
Damien Cahill, NTEU University of Sydney Branch Vice President (Academic), Elected Member, NTEU National Executive
David Glanz, member, RMIT University NTEU branch committee
Erima Dall, Maritime Union of Australia (Sydney branch)
Gawaian Bodkin-Andrews, NTEU member and Associate Professor at University of Technology Sydney
Heather Goodall, NTEU member UTS
Holly Patterson, The Services Union
Jane Margarets
Jasmine Ali, Casual researcher, ACU
Jean Parker, NTEU University of Sydney
Jenny Haines, NSW Nurses and Midwives Association and NTEU member
Jenny Lloyd
Jim Casey, Vice President, Fire Brigade Employees Union, NSW
Jim Hadjigeorgiou, Community and Public Sector Union member
John Andrew Davidson, HACSU member
John Gauci, Secretary, Inner City Teachers Association (NSW Teachers Federation)
John Morris, Secretary, Canterbury-Bankstown Teachers Federation
John Passant, NTEU member, MEAA member, PhD student, poet.
Judy McVey, Section Councillor CPSU, ABS PSOI
Kelton Muir de Moore, NTEU member Usyd, SRC Refugee Rights Officer
Laura Pou, NUW member Salmat
Lucy Honan, AEU (Victoria) Branch Councillor
Mark Goudkamp, EAL/D teacher, member of NSW Teachers Federation Anti-Racism Policy Committee
Mark Johnston, NTEU University of Sydney Branch Vice President and National Councillor
Melanie Lazarow, Life Member NTEU
Michael Thomson, Secretary, NTEU NSW
Mike Beggs, NTEU member, Department of Political Economy, University of Sydney
Miro Sandev, NTEU member University of Sydney
Nick Riemer, NTEU member University of Sydney
Nizza Siano, ex Union official (retired ASU Member)
Paddy Gibson, NTEU member and Senior Researcher, Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning UTS
Paul Smyth, ASU member NSW & ACT (Services) Branch
Robert Stainsby, CPSU member
Tom Orsag, CFMEU member ACT Branch
Tristan Peach, RTBU delegate Salmat
Vanamali Hermans, USU Canberra
Verity Burgmann, NTEU (retired section)
Vivian Honan, NTEU member University of Sydney


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