And the wages received by these foreign workers in Western Australia are almost half of what their Australian counterparts receive, the reports suggest.
Workers underpaid—As per the information available, nearly 250 to 300 Chinese miners have been underpaid. Foreign miners from China employed on Sino Iron project in Western Australia, Pilbara are being paid between $70,000 and $80,000 while their Australian counterparts employed on same jobs are earning nearly double their wages, i.e. around $150,000.
Interestingly, the $5.4 billion Sino Iron project in Western Australia belongs to a Chinese mining group and is being built by CITIC Pacific of Hong Kong.
DIAC begins probe–Taking a cue from all such reports, Australian immigration department-DIAC (Department of Immigration and Citizenship) has started probe to find the fact.
Investigations launched by the Australian immigration department nearly two weeks ago are underway. However, the issue of underpayment of Chinese workers in WA came to light after nearly 18 months when the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union had first highlighted the problem.
As per an official spokesperson of Australian immigration department, any alleged violation of Australian 457 sponsorship visas is taken very seriously by the immigration department.
Labor unions furious over low wage rates– Employers in Australia hiring foreign workers on Australian 457 visas are under obligation to pay them wage rate equivalent to that paid to Australians.
However, it is being revealed by the union that employers initially bring Chinese workers as skilled tradespersons and then provide labor work at very low rates. If foreign workers are dealt in such a way for mining projects such as Cape Preston, then wages will be driven down, says Dave Noonan, national construction division secretary CFMEU.
He further alleged that this will complicate job scenario for Australians in the resources sector since they will find it difficult to get employment in booming resources sector.
It is already happening, says Noonan. A large number of Australian workers say they are not getting any call backs after applying for mining jobs in Western Australia, Mr. Noonan adds.