457 visa: compulsory labour agreements

September 12, 2007

PROPOSED Midfield Meat International action to source overseas workers for its Warrnambool plant was under review yesterday following a Department of Immigration and Citizenship announcement.

Immigration and Citizenship Minister Kevin Andrews said yesterday that starting immediately Australian meat companies could access overseas skilled workers by entering into compulsory labour agreements.

The announcement came as Midfield was preparing to appeal against a departmental refusal on further nominations for `sub-class 457' visas before the Migration Review Tribunal on September 27.

The development of a labour agreement was seen as an endeavour by the department to impose conditions of employment and employer
undertakings that exceeded the requirements of the 457 visa program, he said.

Mr Andrews' office did not return calls yesterday, but his statement said the compulsory labour agreements would strengthen the integrity of the 457 visa program.

Workforce general manager for lamb processor CRF (Colac-Otway), Rebecca Michalif, yesterday welcomed the labour agreement decision as ``really positive''.

The company had no intention to replace local jobs, but has employed 12 Chinese under the 457 visa program and would like to employ more overseas workers to ``support our skill shortage''.