The AMWU has demanded mining companies be contractually obliged to first train and employ Australian workers, rather than fostering unemployment and destroying Australia's skills base by importing labour on 457 visas.
AMWU National Secretary, Paul Bastian, said last Friday’s announcement by Minister for Immigration Chris Bowen to approve an EMA for Gina Rinehart’s Roy Hill project in Western Australia is devastating to people who are looking for a job and particularly young people facing record unemployment levels.
"Friday’s announcement by the Minister runs completely contrary to the government’s stated position of ensuring Australians have jobs,” said Mr Bastian.
The decision only serves the interests of big mining companies who seek to cut costs and deny Australians the opportunity to get a job through the importation of labour.
Mr. Bastian made clear that the AMWU supports skilled migration and the use of temporary visa workers when it is demonstrated that local workers or skills cannot be sourced. “This is not about pitting worker against worker” he said.
"The youth unemployment rate in Kwinana, Western Australia has soared to 24.8 per cent, according to the latest ABS figures. In manufacturing we have experienced trades and semi skilled people losing jobs and seeking work.
"The announcement allows 1700, 457 visa holders to be engaged over a three year period. This is a short-sighted decision without any requirement being placed on the company to do their bit to reduce the local unemployment or even test the local employment market.
"There's no evidence that the company has even tried to find local people to do the work. There's been no job ads, no calls for workers and no labour market testing.
"The Minister in making the announcement should be imposing contractual obligations to ensure that these companies cannot simply take the cheap option of bypassing local workers.
“We want rigorous requirements imposed on companies seeking to use 457 visa holder labour, to ensure they have first exhausted the local employment market and have given Australians first opportunity.
"There may be a resources boom for some, but it is bypassing young Australians seeking skills and a better life. For them, this decision offers very little,” said Mr Bastian.