Earlier this month, Federal Police and the Department of Immigration have raided South Australian painting contractor for exploiting nine temporary Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) sponsored under 457 visa program.
A team from Migrante Melbourne flew to Adelaide, South Australia to meet the OFWs and extend its support to the abused workers who were badly mistreated by the company. Even before the raid, Migrante has been providing direct legal, political and
advisory assistance to the abused workers and is instrumental in bringing together the necessary support from unions and community groups in Adelaide.
Migrante Australia chair, George Kotsakis, states that all of the OFWs were being underpaid and were forced to work long hours and weekends without pay.
"This is a very clear case of a modern-day slavery", adds Mr Kotsakis. "This is an outright exploitation of temporary workers' position who are willing to sacrifice everything for the betterment of the lives of their families back home".
All were receiving almost half of their contracted wage because of non-payment of award entitlement and excessive deductions for their accommodation costs on the house which was owned by the employer himself.
Two of the nine OFWs were hired as IT Support personnel; but when the IT section of the Mattena Corporation did not materialize, they were forced to do painting and concreting jobs.
The Department of Immigration has issued a sanction on the Mattena Corporation to cancel its sponsorship and bar the company from making any further sponsorship for breaching its sponsorship conditions.
The Department has provided temporary accommodation to the nine abused OFWs immediately after the raid.
The CFMEU is now assisting the workers to find a suitable employer sponsor to extend their lawful stay in Australia.
Migrante assisted the OFWs in working out their claim for unpaid wages which was filed with the Workplace Ombudsman in South Australia. Migrante also coordinated its contacts in South Australia who assisted in organizing community support groups. This Filipino community, help the OFWs with their basic day-to-day needs and allowances.
"We must continue to educate the public on this issue so that overseas foreign workers' rights are protected and that exploitation of these vulnerable group of people is stopped", says Mr Kotsakis.