FairFax Media have claimed seven Chinese workers on the visa subclass 400 were exploited to work on a luxury apartment development in Richmond, Melbourne at rates below the Australian minimum wage without penalty rates or superannuation, despite working six days a week.
FairFax also reported that the seven Chinese workers were some of the first subclass 400 visa holders to be granted a working visa under the China Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) and had obtained safety certification via an online multiple choice test two days before their arrival to work on the Australian Construction site.
Following these claims, the Electrical Trades Union (ETU) raised concerns of a lack of safe guarding measures in the China Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA), which based on an independent examination they commissioned last year, may allow for the potential for workers on the 400 visa to be exploited.
The China Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) was signed by the Federal Government last year with the intention to speed up the process for working visas, boost trade and reduce tariffs.
A spokesperson for the Department of Immigration and Border Protection has commented on the recent media interest, saying the Government “took seriously” all allegations of overseas workers being exploited and underpaid.
“All temporary visa holders with work rights are entitled to the same basic rights and protections as Australian under applicable workplace laws,” the spokesperson said.
“Employers are obliged to engage and remunerate staff in accordance with the Fair Work Act.”
Under the subclass 400 visa, people with the relevant skills, knowledge and experience are able to carry out highly specialised work for an Australian business for a period of usually three months.