Economy

Australia rips off backpackers

Australia rips off backpackers

"Temporary migrants comprise of up to 11 percent of the Australian labour market", said the study's authors, a joint force between UNSW Law and UTS. "Despite the prominence of migrant worker exploitation in the media, there has been limited empirical data on the overall nature and extent of wage theft among global students and backpackers in Australia".

"The study reveals that Australia has a large, silent under-class of migrant workers who are paid well below the minimum wage", senior law lecturer Bassina Farbenblum said in a statement.

The report - by UTS and UNSW - draws on survey responses from 4,322 temporary migrants from 107 countries in all states and territories, and presents what the authors say is a bleak but much-needed national picture of the extent of wage theft among worldwide students and backpackers in Australia.

The fruit-picking industry actually emerged as providing the lowest paid jobs altogether.

Nearly one-third of total respondents said they had earned $12 per hour or less.

On average, Asian workers received lower wages than people from the United Kingdom and North America. Chinese workers are also more likely to be paid in cash.

ACTU president Ged Kearney said Australia's visa system had created a pool of easily exploited labour, which employers exploit at the expense of migrant workers.

"We found the overwhelming majority of global students and backpackers are aware they are being underpaid".

Wage theft has been on the national rader since the 7-Eleven scandal broke previous year.

This contradicts a popular assumption that workers are underpaid because they are unaware of the minimum wage, the authors said.

Similar scandals hit pizza chains Dominos and Pizza Hut.

Laurent Van Eesbeeck was paid $60 a day on average at one strawberry farm
Australia rips off backpackers

The people were on working-holiday or student visas and accounted for 11 percent of Australian jobs, mostly in restaurants and takeaways, petrol stations, vehicle washes, farms, meatpacking, taxi-driving, factories, cleaning and child care.

According to the study, fruit and vegetable pickers were the worst paid.

It found a third of backpackers were paid A$12 (£6.80, $9) per hour or less, well below the legal minimum rate of A$22.13 for casual staff. "For nearly 40 percent of students and backpackers, their lowest paid job was in a cafe, restaurant or takeaway", Berg said.

Australian employers are blatantly ripping off backpackers and worldwide students, a damning new report has found, and are sometimes engaging in criminal behaviour.

Three per cent had their passport confiscated by their employer, five per cent paid an up-front deposit for a job and four per cent had to pay cash back to their employer from wages.

Available in 12 languages as well as English.

"There's been a common misconception that they're underpaid because they simply don't know Australian labor laws, and that's really not the case at all", Farbenblum said.

1,440 respondents were backpackers (Working Holiday Makers).

Half of overseas workers reported either never or rarely ever receiving a pay slip, while nearly half said they were paid in cash.

"It provides compelling evidence for expanded services that respond to temporary migrants' experiences, as shared directly by them".

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