By Ben Wilson
Echoing the words of the Prime minister last Friday, Minister Alan Tudge, effectively told temporary visa holders o go home yesterday, when they can’t dip into their superannuation to survive, after being stood down over COVID-19.
Both know very well, that few of these workers in Australia, have savings or accumulated superannuation at their disposal.
How can they go anyway? Unable to raise the money for a quick ticket out of Australia, and the reality that most of the planes are not flying, means that visa holders are remain stuck in Australia.
Many of the 1.1 million temporary work visa holders are being doncemned to serious poverty.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden has fired a shot at the Australian government for this. Many of the affected are New Zealanders.
They are not getting the government Covid-19 related payment going to employers, which they are supposed to pass on to other workers. These visa workers are also denied any other payment through Centrelink and health services through Medicare.
An extended period without any income whatsoever, means a serious risk of not having enough food and becoming homeless.
Along with the casualised workforce and those who have been with their current employer for less than 12 months, foreign temporary work visa holders are a soft target.
The Migrant Workers Centre at Melbourne’s Trades Hall, the home of Victoria’s combined unions, has called on the Morrison government to” reconsider. Arguing that this group of workers are “doing crucial jobs” and contribute to the lifeblood of the Australian economy”.
Matt Kunkel, the director of the Migrant Workers Centre said, “Scott Morrison is either being willfully ignorant or is seeking to deceive the Australian public about the situation temporary migrant workers are in”.
“Locking them out of financial assistance and allowing them to fall into destitution is not something we can stand by and watch happen”.
“By calling on these workers to go home, many businesses will not be able to continue operating and many farms will be unable to have their produce picked”.
A survey carried out by unions has found that 50 percent of temporary visa holders are already out of work as a result of COVID-19, another 18 percent have had their hours cut.
One-in-two temporary migrant workers surveyed are living off their small savings, but they expect those will run out within two weeks.
A staggering 43 percent of respondents said they were skipping meals regularly as a financial consequence of COVID-19.