457 visa-holders can call hotline to find out rights

A NEW telephone hotline for workers on 457 visas, who believe they have been exploited, was launched by the Australian Council of Trade Unions on Friday.

The union has been campaigning for tighter regulation of the visas scheme, alleging it has been the subject of widespread rorting by businesses and migration agents.

Previous claims that up to 10,000 such rorts were conducted have been proven wrong, despite an increasing amount of evidence that at least some exploitation of workers has happened.

ACTU national secretary Dave Oliver said that while the unions welcomed skilled migration, there had to be checks and balances in place to ensure skills shortages were real.

"What is occurring and what unions oppose is businesses undercutting Australian conditions and exploiting the system to deny local workers' job opportunities and put skilled migrant workers in a vulnerable position," he said.

"Unions are seeking to protect the rights of both local and temporary migrant workers."

He said problems surrounding the visa program were not an immigration issue, rather it was a workers' rights issue.

"That's why we are reaching out to these communities.

"This Confidential Hotline for 457 visa-holders will put them in contact with union officers and government resources who can help them find out about their rights," he said.

The confidential hotline, run by the union, is 1300 362 223.