Temporary Migrants in Australia forgotten by Government during COVID-19 crisis

Unions NSW today launched a campaign to protect migrant workers who are at risk of being stuck in Australia without employment during the COVID-19 crisis.

The constantly changing nature of the COVID-19 crisis, including mass business closures and job cuts and insufficient government stimulus packages, has further highlighted the second-class status suffered by temporary migrants.

Unions NSW is demanding the Federal Government make the following reforms to ensure temporary migrants are protected:

Include temporary migrants in stimulus packages and permit access to social security during this unprecedented time;

Provide temporary migrants with social security support to ensure they are able to survive the COVID-19 crisis period if they have lost their job and are unable to return home;

Provide temporary migrants with immediate paid sick leave and isolation leave regardless of whether they are casual workers or independent contractors.

Provide immediate visa extensions and/or amnesties will be granted in light of global travel restrictions.

In March 2019, the Committee for the Economic Development of Australia reported there were 1.7 million temporary migrants residing in Australia.

“Temporary migrant workers are at risk of being stranded in Australia with no work, no access to social security support or Medicare and no way of getting home due to global pandemic crisis.”

“Migrant workers also may be more likely to be chosen when businesses are cutting jobs.”

“With less likelihood of having family support, there is a real risk of many temporary migrants being stranded and jobless in Australia.”

“This is likely to leave many visa holding workers destitute and desperate at a time where traditional community support services are already stretched to the limit.”

“Unions NSW is urging all migrant workers in NSW to join their union and immediately access Unions NSW’s Visa Assist service. This service which is offered in conjunction with the Immigration Advice and Rights Centre provides free legal support to migrant workers with their industrial and visa related matters.”