Newsletter November & December 2018

Chinese Workers Join Union Campaign for Better Wage, Conditions

Members of the Chinese community handing Change the Rules campaign flyers

Source: SBS

 

Overcoming language barriers and cultural differences, migrant workers of Chinese background joined national-wide union campaign demanding better wages and secure jobs, as SBS reported.

 

Community members such as Stephen Fang advocated against the so-called “cash-in-hand” culture amongst Chinese restaurants and small business which he claimed had made workers vulnerable to exploitation.

 

"Chinese people can't protect themselves because they get no sick day, no holiday," Fang noted. "That's illegal, so the current system has lots of limitations to protect the small business, not the workers."

Migrant workers not only took it to the streets, but fought exploitation online.

Thanks to the Melbourne-based Young Workers Centre and the Migrant Workers Centre, Chinese-speaking workers on temporary visas and international students in Victoria could join an online survey about “gig economy” in their own languages such as Mandarin (mainland China), Cantonese and Taiwanese, to share their experiences in an effort to curb the exploitative practices in the sector.

 

Migrant Workers Take It to National Stage as Union Membership Doubles on Farms

Source: National Union of Workers

 

As many as 60 farm workers from the National Union of Workers shared their experiences and hosted a workshop on ending the black economy in the supermarket supply chain during the ALP National Conference 2018, according to the union’s social media page.

 

NUW members Danial and Yaya, accompanied by Victorian Secretary Susie Allison, met with Opposition Leader Bill Shorten to discuss how national labour hire licensing legislation and visa reform can help to end exploitation on farms across Australia.

 

"When we win amnesty then we can fight for our rights. We demand dignity and respect and we are proud to be in the union. We feel very strong, we are fighting not just for ourselves but for all farm workers," noted Yaya,

 

Over the past years, the union claimed to have won hundreds of thousands of dollars in back pay for its members, and in 2018 along the union membership in the horticultural industry doubled, as Red Flag reported.

 

Australia Passes Modern Slavery Bill, Spurring Stringent Supply Chain Monitoring

Source: Monash University

 

Australian businesses with turnovers over $100 million would have to report what they are doing to stamp out slavery in supply chains, as the Modern Slavery Bill passed the parliament in early December, according to SBS.

 

The passing of the Bill was the culmination of many years of advocacy by social justice and anti-slavery campaigners after the UK passed its law in 2015, according to Monash University academic Marie Segrave and Heather Moore.

 

“The intention of this Act is to move from relying on reactive, criminal justice mechanisms to identify exploitation, towards encouraging Australian businesses to adopt practices that actively prevent such exploitation from occurring within their supply chains,” claimed Segrave and Moore.

 

However, Michele O'Neil, president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions noted that companies should face penalties for breaches and false reporting, and stressed the need for an independent anti-slavery commissioner.

 

"As it stands, this bill doesn't send a strong enough message to companies - we need fines in order to really be able to say they cannot get away with tolerating the presence of slavery as 'business as usual'," O’Neal told SBS.

 

 

For comments and inquiries, please contact the Migrant Workers Centre on mwc@vthc.org.au or Sam Jiayi Liu, Media and Communications Officer, on jliu@vthc.org.au

 

21 Dec 2018