Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty and Senator Kathryn Reilly today joined with the youth wings of Mandate Trade Union and the Communications Workers Union (CWU) to launch a guide to workers’ right in Australia for Irish workers on temporary visas.
The document is an initiative of Pearse Doherty with the support of the Claddagh Association Perth, the ACTU, Mandate, TEEU, IBOA and Unite.
Pearse Doherty TD said at the launch:
“In August 2012 I visited Australia and met with trade unionist and Irish groups. There I witnessed and heard about abuses of Irish workers in Australia. I was delighted then to cooperate with the trade union movement in producing this document to let Irish workers know their rights Down Under.
“In this document Irish workers can find contact details for all their needs from mental health advice to the GAA to Irish-Australian support organisations and the Irish Embassy.
“The document lays out simply what a young person can expect in Australia when working. It provides contact details for Australian trade unions and information on tax and health and safety. The document will be distributed here in Ireland to young people intending to travel to work in Australian and among the Irish community in Australia.”
Sinn Féin Youth Affairs Spokesperson Senator Kathryn Reilly said:
“There is probably not one young person in Ireland today who does not know somebody working in Australia. This document is a practical way of making sure they are safe from exploitation while there. I urge friends and family still in Ireland to share this document widely so that it can reach the widest number of young Irish workers in Australia.”
David Gibney, Chairperson of Mandate Youth, who spent two years in Melbourne, said Irish workers are in a precarious position when arriving in Australia.
“Irish workers in Australia on a 457 visa are often exploited due to the fact their visa is tied to their employer and the withdrawal of their contract can often mean having a number of weeks to either find alternative sponsorship or to exit the country.
“With the current economic environment in Ireland, including an exceptionally high youth unemployment rate, many young workers are afraid to ‘rock the boat’ and vindicate their rights at work for fear of losing their sponsorship and having to return home to such a bleak working environment.
“This document informs Irish workers of some of the very basic rights they have in Australia and we’re also urging them to join their relevant trade union on arrival so they can have access to professional representation should anything go wrong.
“The reason Australian workers have some of the best terms and conditions of employment anywhere in the world are because of the strength of their trade union movement and Irish workers should continue to support that movement.”
Derek Keenan, CWU Youth Chair said;
“Eager to get a foothold in the Australian job market and facing an uncertain future in terms of residency, Irish migrant workers are susceptible to abuse by unscrupulous employers seeking to exploit their precarious situation. However by joining Trade Unions in Australia, Irish migrant workers not only help protect themselves, but also help maintain the existence of decent employment with good rates of pay and conditions for all those who live and work in Australia.”