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Unions outraged skilled migration deal
Unions outraged skilled migration deal

Unions have decried the Federal Government's plan to allow temporary skilled migration to meet the labour demands of mining companies for big resources projects.

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen announced this morning that Gina Rinehart's Roy Hill iron ore project would be the first to benefit from the government's enterprise migration agreement scheme.

The EMA will allow Hancock Prospecting and its partners to sponsor up to a maximum of 1715 temporary overseas workers for the three-year construction phase through the 457 visa program where they cannot find Australians to fill the positions.

However the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) said the mining industry should be investing in secure, permanent jobs for Australians before resorting to importing guest workers.

It said the Government's decision to cave in to Mrs Rinehart's demands to bring 1700 overseas guest workers to Australia without fully attempting to find local workers for the Roy Hill project was short-sighted and risked costing Australians jobs.

ACTU secretary Dave Oliver said the push by Mrs Rinehart showed the mining industry was not interested in paying its way and was not interested in returning benefits to Australians.

"The few multi-billionaires who control so much of our country's natural resources wealth are only interested in their own profits and how much they can squeeze out of the minerals that belong to the Australian people," he said.

"The mining boom is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to invest in secure jobs, skills and building new communities that will drive Australia's economic growth into the future.

"It must not be squandered by mining moguls seeking to fatten their profits at the expense of the Australian community and workers.

Mr Oliver said it was a very disappointing decision from the Government and the ACTU would be meeting with the relevant Ministers as early as possible to discuss the ramifications.

"We have had no independent evidence to back up claims by mining magnates like Mrs Rinehart that there aren't enough Australian workers to meet the needs of future resources projects," he said.

"Where is the proof that Mrs Rinehart has exhausted all opportunities to give Australian workers jobs, or any moves to encourage young people into training?"

The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) said the initiative would deny entry level jobs into the mining industry.

AMWU State secretary Steve McCartney said conditions in the EMA were so low that it set a dangerous precedent for WA's future development.

"Gina Rinehart's ambitions on this matter are no secret, she has strongly advocated for resources projects to be able to import fly in fly out foreign labour on lower pay and conditions then local workers," he said.

"What is news to us, is that the Gillard Government has allowed this project to go ahead with such a low bar that it wont even compel resources companies to test the labour market to source local labour before bringing in thousands of overseas workers," he said.

"Traditionally the semi-skilled jobs are the entry level jobs into the industry.

"How will we staff the industry in 20 years time if we allow entry level jobs to be filled by temporary overseas labour.

"Surely some common sense is needed here."

Mr McCartney said since 2009, youth unemployment in south metropolitan Perth was up from 7.9 per cent to 24.8 per cent.

"One has to wonder why the Gillard Government has gone weak at the knees when it comes to compelling resources companies so source local labour and local content," he said.