Previous migrant worker schemes have suppressed wages of Australian workers. (Sound familiar?) But unions could endorse a new plan if:
Recently the Asian Development Bank assessed that at least one-quarter of the people in the Pacific have insufficient incomes to meet their basic needs.
Today in the East Timorese capital of Dili 58 per cent of young people are out of work; one-third of the population of the strife-torn Solomons capital Honiara live in poverty; and more than half the population of Australia's former colony of Papua New Guinea live below the basic needs poverty line.
- First, Australians would get the first opportunity to be employed before any migrant labour is deployed.
- Second, a worker on the scheme can expect to earn the same as an Australian doing the same work.
- And, most importantly, punitive measures would be taken against any employers who seek to exploit the scheme to drive down wages and conditions in their industry or to treat the foreign workers as some sort of indentured slaves.