Australia Post is employing unskilled workers on 457 visa holders to deliver parcels and sort mail, according to a union, which says they are being used to drive down the postal service’s costs.
It’s just cheap, unregulated labour that does not comply with minimum wages.
”It’s just cheap, unregulated labour that does not comply with minimum wages,” the union’s Victorian state secretary Joan Doyle said.
Ms Doyle will meet Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten on Friday to discuss what she says is the growing use of 457 visas by contractors for Australia Post.
The visas are meant to be used solely for skilled overseas workers, sponsored by a business to work in Australia temporarily.
They can only be sponsored if a business cannot find an appropriately skilled Australian citizen or resident.
Mel Ward, a spokeswoman for Australia Post, said it was not hiring employees on 457 visas to work in delivery.
She said the postal agency’s contractual relationships with contractors ”ensure they comply with the law and provide appropriate working terms and conditions for people they employ”.
Immigration Minister Brendan O’Connor has stirred debate around the visas, which he says are being abused by employers. In March, there were 105,600 such visa holders in Australia – 19 per cent more than last year.
Ms Doyle said there were sponsored 457 visa holders working at postal sorting centres, including those in Essendon and West Melbourne.
These visa holders were paid as little as $17.50 an hour at a flat rate, instead of a base rate of $21 an hour plus penalty payments for shifts starting as early as 4am.
Ms Doyle said the main area where 457 visa workers were concentrated was subcontracted parcel delivery.
”Increasingly, these ‘subbies’ are 457 visa employees,” she said.