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News News Barnett must follow lead on locals first for jobs

Following union success in having the Federal Government Jobs Board established as a step towards ensuring locals have the opportunity to fill resource boom jobs before relying on overseas labour, UnionsWA President, Meredith Hammat, has warned the Barnett Government that it must now reconsider its recent change of policy under the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme. 

 Ms Hammat said:

“The Barnett Government should follow the lead of the Federal Government and require employers to advertise jobs locally before allowing the use of overseas labour in WA.

“There should be a ‘locals first’ policy for job opportunities and overseas labour should not be forced to stay in employment contracts that undermine wages and conditions.

“Where there are genuine labour and skill shortages, some overseas labour may be needed.

“However under the Barnett Government’s administration of the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme, thousands of jobs in WA are being filled by overseas labour without first advertising locally.

“Often workers are not paid the market rates; some only get the minimum wage of $627 per week.

“Under this program if an overseas worker leaves a sponsored position they may lose their work visa and be forced to return overseas.

“The risk of employer rip-offs is high and the program can be manipulated in really dangerous ways to create a docile workforce paid at minimum rates.

“This is why unions believe that temporary migration schemes should be the last resort and must be properly regulated. “


The WA Government is the Regional Certifying Body for the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) meaning that it processes employer applications and determines requirements, if any, for ‘labour market testing’ i.e. evidence regarding genuine labour shortages.  Nationally there are 16,000 places under the RSMS.  Despite being labelled a ‘regional’ program employers across the entire state of WA, including in Perth are eligible to apply.  This is not a skilled migration program as semi-skilled occupations can be filled.

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