Twenty Hungarian workers “systematically bullied,” “exploited” in Australia
A group of 20 Hungarian laborers brought to Australia on temporary work visas by Austria-based Assmont Steel Construction Gmbh have allegedly become victims of mistreatment and payment of 50% the wages originally promised – and Assmont itself is accused of playing fast and loose with Australian regulations.
Clay Lucas pens quite a harrowing tale in the online pages of the Canberra Times of the exploitation of the workers, few of which spoke any English or German.
Assmont reportedly managed to acquire visas for 30 mechanical engineering technicians and in Hungarian-language contracts promised the hirees around Aus. $30 (€20.75/HUF 6,150) per hour. Instead, none of the Hungarian nationals were qualified to do the jobs for which they’d been ostensibly hired and were paid Aus. $15 per hour for manual labor in the erecting of a warehouse in Sydney for which Assmont had been subcontracted.
In what the Australian Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) secretary Dave Noonan called a “blatant ripoff,” the workers were reportedly working up to 66 hours a week while being “systematically bullied” and living in sub-standard housing.
Assmont’s misdeeds have attracted the attention of the national Fair Work Ombudsman and the immigration department in addition to the CFMEU, which has taken on the laborers’ case.
CFMEU reportedly regards the case as a misuse of Australia’s “457 visas,” which allow skilled workers to work in Australia for an approved business for up to four years, but may only earn sponsorship for the visa if a qualifying Australian citizen or resident cannot do the job.
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