Thursday, June 19, 2014

Aussie Gov't Looking into Allegations of labor abuses against Taiwan working holiday backpackers

A reader alerted me to this story. Apparently Taiwanese backpackers on working holidays in Australia are being abused. From ABC:
The Fair Work Ombudsman is preparing to launch an investigation into claims backpackers employed as fruit pickers in one of the country's biggest food producing regions are being underpaid by labour hire contractors and forced to live in illegal budget accommodation.

The investigation will focus on the Queensland city of Bundaberg where, each year, thousands of travellers spend at least 88 days working on farms along the harvest trail in order to extend their 417 working holiday visas.

Taiwanese backpacker Claire, who goes by her Australian nickname, moved to the city last June to work on a tomato farm.

Speaking to 7.30, Claire claimed to have been significantly underpaid, forced to sleep in a living room with 25 other backpackers, mostly from Korea, and denied rest breaks despite working all day beneath the sun without shelter.

"We just got $7 a day and we needed to spend maybe six hours a day picking tomatoes," she said.

The wage was paid in cash by a labour hire contractor who then charged Claire $125 rent each week to sleep on a mattress on the floor
What horrible people these company owners are.
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Anonymous said...

And yet, when Taiwanese do the same things to 'little brown people' from Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Philippines etc. it is not news.

Do Androids Dream said...

The people running the companies are often East Asian migrants.

A close Taiwanese friend of mine went to Bundaberg in April after being told she could work picking fruit. When she arrived the Korean-Australian that ran the business said she'd have to wait a few weeks for the season to start. Until then she was supposed to rent a room from the guy. He asked for a deposit and 4 weeks rent up front.

She thought the whole deal smelled and left. Her impression was that the guy thought that Australians are too stupid to catch him because the jobs are only advertised in Chinese.

Mike Fagan said...

"She thought the whole deal smelled and left."

What did she do next? Did she find another job in Australia or did she return to Taiwan?

Combine_Dave said...

Doesn't seem plausible, unless there's a specific few firms that are doing the wrong thing and need to be fined/shut down.

We have quite a few Koreans and Taiwans entering Australia on working holiday visas (often repeat visitors), doesn't seem likely if they were all being treated so badly.

Although I have heard that lots of local Taiwanese businesses operating in Australia (whether labour hire, resturant or grocer shop) prefer to employ only Taiwanese and often at low wages (including less than minimum wage). I can only assume for these temp employeed that the currency difference makes it worth it. Something like 30/1 for Aus to Taiwan dollar.

Do Androids Dream said...

@Mike Fagan
She's back in Sydney looking for other work. Her problem is that she wants to qualify for a second year of working holiday visa by working on a farm. She's a software programmer..... and mostly seems pissed off that the Korean-Australian guy constantly told her she was too old for that type of work. She's pushing 35.

@Combine Dave
Not sure who your comment is directed to. No one said it is happening to all working holiday visa people!

However, I can confirm that many Taiwanese owned/operated businesses in Chatswood, Sydney prefer to employ Taiwanese and then rip them off in terms of wages. It's all too common.