The Broadmeadows Magistrates’ Court in Victoria fined Lakeside Packaging $100,000 for seven breaches of the Victorian workplace safety laws last week, following a complaint by two migrant workers on 457 visas.
AMWU National Secretary Dave Oliver welcomed the fine imposed on the company that was brought to the attention of Worksafe by the AMWU.
The court fined Lakeside for failing to provide a safe workplace and failing to provide structure, instruction, training and supervision in a language understood by the employees, between March and September 2006.
Federal Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Evans also welcomed the fine and said the penalty should act as a deterrent.
“This penalty should send a strong reminder to all employers that health and safety laws apply equally to 457 visa workers as they do to Australian workers.
“Exploitation of migrant workers is totally unacceptable and rogue employers should expect authorities to come down hard on them.”
Senator Evans said that the Department of Immigration and Citizenship had also imposed a sanction on Lakeside Packaging preventing the company from accessing the 457 program for one year for breach of their sponsorship undertakings for failing to pay the Minimum Salary Level.
Further sanctions may now be imposed on Lakeside Packaging for breach of the sponsorship undertakings.
Sanctions may include cancelling Lakeside Packaging’s current sponsorship agreement and/or barring them from accessing the subclass 457 program to sponsor temporary skilled overseas workers for up to five years.
Senator Evans said the Rudd Government plans to introduce new laws in September to strengthen measures to help prevent the exploitation of temporary skilled foreign workers and ensure the wages and conditions of Australian workers are not undercut.
The Minister released a discussion paper that seeks feedback on the proposed reforms to the 457 visa program.
Mr Oliver said the AMWU supported penalties against employers who deliberately use the scheme to underpay workers, thereby undermining pay and conditions in the industry.
“At present, there are no sanctions against employers who underpay workers and measures need to be implemented so that if you bring workers from other countries because you can’t find them here, you pay them the going rate.”