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A proposed package of measures from the Albanese Government aims to address the widespread wage theft and exploitation of workers on temporary visas. Today Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, Andrew Giles committed to a package of reforms, which include:

  • Protection against visa cancellation for migrant workers,
  • Flexible visa requirements for future visas for exploited workers, and
  • A short-term visa to bring claims for wages workers are owed, or other breaches of workplace laws.

Many members of United Workers Union (UWU) are currently working on temporary visas across different sectors including: horticulture, cleaning, security, aged care, home care and hospitality.

Currently, migrant workers face massive barriers to take action against exploitative employers, fearing that it will result in their visa being cancelled.

Up to two thirds of temporary migrants are paid below the minimum casual hourly rate, and yet less than ten percent take action to recover their stolen wages.[1]

By protecting workers that come forward and supporting them to stay while they pursue an employer that has breached the law, we can begin to eliminate exploitation that relies on visa insecurity.

Comments attributable to United Workers Union National Secretary Tim Kennedy:

“Improved safeguards and protections for migrant workers are long overdue and underpin a path to eradicating exploitation for workers on temporary visas in Australia.

“United Workers Union – the lived experience and knowledge of our members – will be crucial to the success of a co-design process. If this process is going to be able to develop initiatives to tackle wage theft and exploitation that many migrant workers face, workers need to be driving the solutions.

“When workers know their rights and have the confidence and protection to speak up collectively in their union when their rights are being denied, exploitation and wage theft can be addressed.

“Migrant workers in Australia need protection against cancellation of their visa when their employer does the wrong thing.

“Ensuring migrant workers can remain in Australia while they are pursuing their workplace rights or participating in an investigation against their employer is an important step to take.

“Workers need to be assured they will be treated fairly when they report cases of exploitation.”


Media Contact: 1300 898 633, [email protected]


[1] Migrant Justice Institute, ‘Wage Theft in Silence: Why Migrant Workers Do Not Recover Their Unpaid Wages in Australia’ (2018) available