April 2020 Newsletter

The April edition of the Migrant Workers Centre Newsletter features:

  • #NoWorkerLeftBehind and JobKeeper campaigns
  • JobScammer: Holding bosses to account
  • Live broadcasts in language by the Multicultural Safety Ambassadors
  • Industrial win: Hospo worker recovers $2400 in stolen wages
  • Solidarity with undocumented migrants - United Workers Union and Tamil Refugee Council
  • Free migration advice for Transport Workers’ Union members in Victoria

#NoWorkerLeftBehind campaign and JobKeeper

The Migrant Workers Centre is continuing to spearhead the #NoWorkerLeftBehind campaign, calling on the Morrison government to expand its JobKeeper wage subsidy to all workers and to ensure that all people in Australia have access to the financial and medical support they need.

Migrant workers from all walks of life are speaking out in the media, calling for the Government to provide support. Last weekend, Alejandro, Phil, Pavlina amongst other migrant workers were featured in The Age and they spoke about the dire circumstances they’re in. We’re seeing the push for a universal wage subsidy gain momentum. Migrant workers are asking Josh Frydenberg to use his powers to immediately extend income support. They want to meet with him so he can hear their stories, and explain to them why he’s choosing to lock 1.1 million people out of any income support. If you missed the story, it can be found online here.

However there’s been some welcome news - the Victorian government has announced a new International Student Emergency Relief Fund. This fund will provide payments of up to $1,100 for international students experiencing financial hardship and is accessible to students at universities, TAFEs, private Vocational Education and Training providers and English language colleges. If you’re an international student, you can register for the fund here.

This additional support is a huge relief for many who have been facing the prospect of homelessness and living off food packages for weeks. However, the Migrant Workers Centre is continuing our call for the Morrison Government to expand JobKeeper to ensure migrant workers will have the ongoing capacity to support themselves through this crisis.

JobScammer: Holding bosses to account

Victorian Trades Hall Council has launched JobScammer, a website to ensure that bosses are held to account and workers receive the full JobKeeper payment they’re entitled to. Stories have been emerging of dodgy bosses withholding payments and using JobKeeper as an opportunity to exploit workers. The Migrant Workers Centre is supporting these efforts to ensure those who are eligible receive their full entitlements. There have already been 400 responses, highlighting how widespread wage theft is even during times of crisis. If your boss is withholding your JobKeeper payment, you can report them here: jobscammer.com.au

Live broadcasts by the Multicultural Safety Ambassadors

The Multicultural Safety Ambassadors are continuing to hold live broadcasts in different languages with information about staying safe at work during COVID-19, JobKeeper and JobSeeker. We’ve now had broadcasts in Filipino, English, Chinese, Vietnamese and have further broadcasts in French, Hindi and Arabic coming up. These broadcasts are ensuring that crucial information is accessible in different languages and formats.


Nyakim Tut delivering the English broadcast. Source: Migrant Workers Centre


Leo Nguyen delivering the Vietnamese broadcast. Source: Migrant Workers Centre

If you missed the broadcasts, you can watch them here:

Follow our Facebook page for upcoming broadcasts in French, Hindi and Arabic.

Industrial win: Hospo worker recovers $2,400 in stolen wages

The Migrant Workers Centre is continuing to assist migrant workers with workplace industrial issues.

Nicholas is an international student from Indonesia on a graduate visa. He had been working at a Malaysian restaurant in Melbourne for 6 months where he was only paid $12-13 per hour. With the support of the Migrant Workers Centre, he recovered over $2,400 in stolen wages.

Nicholas understood what the minimum wage was in Australia, but said, “I didn’t have much in the way of employment at the time so I just shut up”. He says that it’s desperation for work that leads many people to accept exploitative work conditions.

“Since I was not a local, some companies, especially smaller ones, were more hesitant to hire me due to the nature of my visa … It’s easier to exploit people on a time crunch because the bosses know they need cash desperately and other workplaces are less likely to hire them because they’re international.”

He says the restaurant had four to five kitchen staff that were all local and paid the award rate, but the floor staff - a mixture of migrant workers and locals - were all underpaid. However, luckily Nicholas kept track of all the cash in hand payments he received and saved pictures of all the rosters his boss sent around. When he found out about the Migrant Workers Centre through his friend, this information allowed him to back up his underpayment claims.


Source: Photo by Caroline Attwood on Unsplash

Support for Undocumented Migrant Workers

The United Workers Union, the Tamil Refugee Council and other community groups have come together to set up the Undocumented Migrants Solidarity Fund.

There are an estimated 100,000 undocumented migrants in Australia who are unable to receive any kind of government support and often refrain from seeking medical treatment for fear of deportation. Groups such as the Tamil Refugee Council have been using money from the fund to deliver food and other essentials.

The fund has already raised $60,000 but most of this has already been distributed and further contributions are needed. You can donate to the fund here. 

Free migration advice for Transport Workers’ Union members in Victoria

Transport Workers Union members in Victoria can now access free migration law advice from Visa Assist. If you’ve been affected by travel bans and border closures due to COVID-19 and need visa advice, you can request help here: unionsnsw.org.au/free_visa_advice_and_help/

If you’re not currently a member of the Transport Workers Union and would like to join, you can do so here

 

 

For media inquiries, please contact Ella Shi at eshi@vthc.org.au or 03 9659 3516