Newsletter of August 2018 - Migrant Workers Centre Skip navigation

Newsletter of August 2018

New centre opens in Melbourne in support of migrant workers, international students

Workers from Myanmar share their fight for workplace rights at NUW members

George Lekakis (Chair of the Board of MWC), Luke Hilakari (Secretary of Victorian Trades Hall), and Robin Scott MP (Minister for Multicultural Affairs) cut the ribbon and open the Migrant Workers Centre

Following passionate speeches delivered by workers from Asia and keynote address by Victorian multicultural minister Robin Scott MP, the Migrant Workers Centre was officially launch on 28 August at the Victorian Trades Hall Council, as Vision Times and SBS reported.

Some 300 workers, trade unionists, politicians, legal professionals, and academics joined the Centre’s launch party in the historic building that in itself best symbolises workers’ struggle in Victoria over the past 170 years.

“This new Centre will better protect and support migrant workers and international students, who are more vulnerable to exploitation at work,” noted Robin Scott MP. “Migrant workers and international students are critical to the strength of our community and our economy – it’s essential we give them the information and support they need.”

As a hub that empowers and educate workers on temporary and permanent visas, the Centre aims at helping migrant workers overcome language barriers and win respect and fair pay at workplaces.

"It’s much harder for people of colour and workers out there from a migrant background to get treated fairly at work," Matt Kunkel, Director of the Centre, told SBS. "It’s also not just that migrant workers are vulnerable, it’s that bosses are also doing the wrong thing."

The diversity of the centre’s organisers is expected to be key to its success, as they speak the languages of workers from China, India and large parts of the Middle East, as the Guardian reported earlier in August.


South Sudanese community asks racism to stop as Melbourne mayors call to end “African gang” talks

Ashar Anyar and Elizabeth Gai

Photograph: Luke Henriques-Gomes for the Guardian

In a video message sent to the prime minister, inspiring youngsters who want to become lawyers and doctors from the Melbourne’s South Sudanese community plead to put a stop on recent racist comments and media reports towards the city’s residents of African backgrounds.

“We need our politicians and our leaders to know that we are affected by their statements,” 24-year-old Anyar who is studying criminology told the Guardian on 18 Aug 2018.

Meanwhile, eight Melbourne mayors, joining by community leader Maker Mayek, criticise fear-mongering and the vilification of the African community by referring troubled youths as “gangs”, as SBS reported earlier last week.

Furthermore, following Queensland senator’s “final solution” speech, Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh and Shadow Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Shayne Neumann rebuke on Ten Daily, claiming “the Australian story is inherently linked to migration and our non-discriminatory immigration policy is our strength and our pride”.


Young Korean pianist’s dream crashed in Victoria abattoir

Yun Kim, 22, struggles with daily routines after the accident

Photograph: SBS

Yun Kim, a 22-year-old student from South Korea, had five of her fingers amputated following a horrible workplace accident in a slaughterhouse in south-eastern Victoria, according to an exclusive report by SBS.

After her hands got caught in the chains of so-called “hide-puller” machine that strips leather from cow carcasses, Kim passed out because of the pain and was rushed to hospital where she spent a week in intensive care.

“The chains kept rolling. The chain, just rolling, it kept rolling,” Kim told SBS.

Gino Andrieri, a principal at law firm Maurice Blackburn, said Kim’s trauma has left international students just like her particularly vulnerable.

“Part of that is language difficulties, access to interpreters and being able to express herself. She’s had some difficulties in terms of delay and decision-making so some of the entitlements she has been approved, some of the entitlements there have been delays in the approval, and some of them have been outright rejection,” noted Andrieri. “This is one of the more tragic cases I’ve seen.”

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