Australian Government Opening Doors to Foreign Labor Instead of Training Countrymen. Sound Familiar?
In Australia, the government of Prime Minister Julia Gillard is under fire from unions for endorsing Enterprise Migration Agreements (EMAs) that would allow up to 1,715 skilled foreign workers to enter the country and work on mining projects. Gillard has promised to “put Australian jobs first,” but unions see the EMAs as a way to hire cheap foreign labor instead of training its own.
Much of the foreign help will be employed by billionaire magnate Gina Rinehart on her massive Roy Hill iron ore project in Western Australia. Many unions see this as a slap in the face to qualified Australian workers as well as an improper political relationship between Rinehart, Gillard and the Australian Mines & Metals Association (AMMA):
Paul Howes, national secretary of the Australian Workers Union, renewed his attacks on the government last night, saying, “the government is so stupid they will probably agree to everything that AMMA wants”.
“You need to talk to Gina Rinehart or AMMA to find out what the government’s doing because that’s who they listen to,” he said.
The Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union said the government was facing a significant backlash from workers.
“I think there is a huge amount of disquiet among working Australians, particularly blue-collar Australians, manufacturing workers and tradies, about why Labor would engage in what is actually a sell-out of Australian jobs in the interest of a few greedy billionaires,” said Dave Noonan, national secretary of the union’s construction division
For Gillard, the malcontent could not come at a worse time as her party prepares for upcoming elections:
The plan brought renewed criticism of Gillard’s Labor government, which trails the opposition Liberal-National coalition by 15 points, according to a Newspoll survey conducted May 11-13. Labor lawmaker Joel Fitzgibbon is canvassing for votes to return her predecessor Kevin Rudd to the party leadership, Melbourne’s Age newspaper reported yesterday, without saying where it obtained the information.
A main union criticism of the plan is that Australian workers should be trained to do the mining jobs, a position familiar to American trade unionists who fight to keep jobs on home soil.
Queensland Council of Unions (QCU) president John Battams believes tens of thousands of Australians want mining work but are turned away because they don’t have the skills needed.
He says labour shortages are set to be a huge issue in Australia, with a taskforce predicting a shortfall of more than 30,000 tradespeople in the mining sector between 2010 and 2015.
“The company must be able to show that all efforts have been taken to employ Australians, and particularly Queenslanders, who want to work on that project,” Mr Battams said.
Same sh*t. Different country.