Australia urged to crack down on abuse of migrant labor

SYDNEY: Australia faced growing calls Tuesday to crack down on the exploitation of migrants laboring in farms and factories, after a television investigation claimed foreigners toiled in conditions akin to “slave labor”.

Using footage from secret cameras, the Australian Broadcasting

Corporation found migrants were being paid well under the legal minimum and working up to 18 hours a day in harsh conditions.

“There’s slave labor in this country,” National Party Member of Parliament Keith Pitt told the Four Corners programme about workers picking and packing foods for supermarket shelves.

“It’s something we need to get rid of.” The programme interviewed young workers who were thousands of dollars underpaid, in some cases earning less than the minimum wage on their late-night and early-morning shifts.

In one instance, a group of laborers from Hong Kong and Taiwan picking cucumbers in Queensland were being paid Aus$13-14 (US$10.19-10.97) an hour for backbreaking work while Australian workers doing the same job were paid more than Aus$20.