A new Migrant Workers Centre report, Insecure by Design: Australia’s migration system and migrant workers’ job market experience, reveals the toll of visa discrimination on migrant workers and reiterates the indisputable link between temporary visa status and workplace exploitation.
The report’s findings, based on a survey of over 1000 migrant workers and 65 in depth interviews, shows:
- Half of all respondents reported feeling unsafe at work with as many as 18% always feeling unsafe at work;
- Migrant workers on temporary visas and insecure work are far more likely to experience workplace safety hazards; and
- 58% of respondents had experienced wage theft with only 26% of those able to successfully recover stolen wages.
Visa discrimination by employers has created a dual job market where some jobs, particularly exploitative and insecure jobs, are readily available to migrant workers whereas decent jobs are inaccessible. Australia’s temporary visa system restricts migrant workers’ ability to gain employment that utilises their skills, experience and qualifications.
The government must take steps to
- Ban discrimination based on migration status in the job market;
- Better recognise migrant workers’ skills, overseas qualifications and experience;
- Improve job security, access to justice, compensation, and whistle-blower protections; and
- Replace employer sponsorship with new visas that improve labour mobility, build pathways to permanent residency for all temporary visa programs and restore the balance between permanent and temporary visa programs.