Geelong workers missing out due to 457 hires, says AMWU

The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union has accused contractor New World Engineering Construction of overlooking Geelong workers for a Viva Energy refinery project.

The ABC’s 7.30 reported last night that the union claims around 100 welders, boilermakers and other skilled workers had applied for work helping to make a new storage tank.

NWEC says there are nine specialist tank fabricators on 457 visas and 41 Australians at the site. The union says the number employed on the project is much greater, and many of the workers are Koreans employed on visas.

“Local people have applied for it. They’ve sent resumes in … They’ve approached the company on the site, saying ‘I work locally, I’m a boilermaker or a welder and I’ve worked before and I desperately need a job’ and they’ve been rejected,” the AMWU’s Tony Hynds told 7.30.

The 457 visa scheme has been a topic of debate lately, with the federal Labor opposition claiming it allows employers to undercut local workers, and the government supporting it as a measure to meet skills gaps.

There are currently over 600 occupations eligible for the hiring of 457 workers.