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Australia’s Electrical Trades Union has accused the Government of “secretly” fast-tracking 457-visa approvals for high-volume sponsors, including Hays Recruitment, under an accreditation scheme.
The temporary work visa allows employers to address skills shortages that cannot be filled from the local labour market. It is the most commonly used Australian visa programme to sponsor overseas skilled workers.
The Victorian branch of the union criticised the Government of fast-tracking 457 visa approvals to allow some employers “unfettered” access to the programme. The union has obtained documents under freedom of information law which show that over 40 employers had been given special accreditation to fast-track their access to foreign workers between November 2011 and September 2012.
The Immigration Department confirmed employer sponsors with accredited status received priority processing, which allows sponsors to have their nomination and visa applications processed ahead of other applicants. Only regular users of foreign workers with a good compliance record and an annual turnover of at least AUD 4 million are given accreditation status.
Victorian ETU secretary Troy Gray criticised the practice, claiming the Government was shielding employers from disclosing the number of 457 workers they used. “How dare anyone suggest that unions have the onus to prove rorts [fraudulent schemes] when 457-importing companies are shielded by a reinforced brick wall of secrecy?” he said.
“If companies like Coles, Shell, Bosch, Boeing and Hays Recruitment are genuinely recruiting overseas because of skills shortages why would they have a problem disclosing the number and positions filled? Only complete transparency will limit the rorting. What is the justification for the secrecy?”
The Immigration Department said that 3,959 visas had been granted to accredited sponsors since November 2011, compared with 121,300 visas granted to non-accredited sponsors.