Mandate Youth launch ‘Your Rights at Work Down Under’ document informing young Irish emigrants of their employment rights in Australia

Wednesday 05 February 2014, 12am

Mandate Youth along with the CWU Youth and Sinn Fein TD Pearse Doherty yesterday launched a workplace rights information document for Irish workers leaving to work in Australia.

The document gives a comprehensive outline for workers on 417 and 457 visas and advises all workers arriving in Australia to join their relevant trade union and is supported by the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU).

David Gibney, from Mandate Youth, who spent two years in Melbourne, said Irish workers are in a precarious position when arriving in Australia.

“Irish workers in Australia on a 457 visa are often exploited due to the fact their visa is tied to their employer and the loss of their job can often mean having a number of weeks to either find alternative sponsorship or to exit the country.

“With the current economic environment in Ireland, including an exceptionally high youth unemployment rate, many young workers are afraid to ‘rock the boat’ and vindicate their rights at work for fear of losing their sponsorship or not having it renewed and having to return home to such a bleak working environment.”

He added, “What this document does is informs Irish workers of some of the very basic rights they have in Australia and we’re also urging them to join their relevant trade union on arrival so they can have access to professional representation should anything go wrong.

“The reason Australian workers have some of the best terms and conditions of employment anywhere in the world are because of the strength of their trade union movement and Irish workers should continue to support that movement,” said Mr Gibney.

Derek Keenan, CWU Chair said, “Eager to get a foothold in the Australian job market and facing an uncertain future in terms of residency, Irish migrant workers are susceptible to abuse by unscrupulous employers seeking to exploit their precarious situation.

“However by joining Trade Unions in Australia, Irish migrant workers not only help protect themselves, but also help maintain the existence of decent employment with good rates of pay and conditions for all those who live and work in Australia”.

Pearse Doherty TD said at the launch:

“In August 2012 I visited Australia and met with trade unionist and Irish groups.  There I witnessed and heard about abuses of Irish workers in Australia. I was delighted then to cooperate with the trade union movement in producing this document to let Irish workers know their rights Down Under.

In this document Irish workers can find contact details for all their needs from mental health advice to the GAA to Irish-Australian support organisations to the Irish Embassy.

The document lays out simply what a young person can expect in Australia when working.  It provides contact details for Australian trade unions and information on tax and Health and Safety. The document will be distributed here in Ireland to young people intending to travel to work in Australian and among the Irish community in Australia.”

Sinn Féin Youth Affairs Spokesperson Senator Kathryn Reilly said:
“There is probably not one young person in Ireland today who does not know somebody working in Australia. This document is a practical way of making sure they are safe from exploitation while there. I urge friends and family still in Ireland to share this document widely so that it can reach the widest number of young Irish workers in Australia.”

Download the document here.

Or view an online version by clicking the image below.