Abuse of holiday workers reaches Parliament

The Hon Kelvin Thomson MP gave a speech in Parliament in relation to the Employment Participation Bill where he mentioned the recent revelations about the ripping off of thousands of meat workers in Australia on working holiday visas.

A lot of the abuse of temporary workers occurs through labour hire companies. In the meatworkers example, the Scone site is owned by Primo Australia, who used the labour hire company Scottwell International. Scottwell, in turn, recruited Chinese, Taiwanese, Japanese and Korean employees to work in abattoirs across Australia. Matt Peacock reported that it has 19 different abattoirs across three states employing more than 1,100 people. Grant Courtney, from the meat workers union, says that these subcontracting arrangements, and the use of labour agencies, should not happen. I agree with him. It is a recipe for the kinds of abuses that Matt Peacock’s report identified. The workers who come to meatworks should be directly employed by the company. They should be paid Australian wages and conditions, and they should pay Australian taxes. If the work runs out, they can be let go, the same as other workers are let go.