Creating Jobs? For Whom?

Recent government rhetoric waxing lyrical about job creation and sound economic management needs some careful analysis.

In the jobs market in Sydney City,we have been surveying various Stimulus Funded and other infrastructure development projects. We were stunned to find that a high percentage of “jobs” in those industries were taken by English and Irish visitors working for Labour Hire contractors and on one year visas. There is no industry in which this disparity is more visible than traffic control.In 4 months we did not speak to 1 traffic controller from that company who was an Australian citizen or permanent resident.They were 100% female and overwhelmingly english. The company is a major supplier of traffic control services in Sydney. The second industry with a prevalence of 1 year visa workers which we observed is civil works.Two major contracting companies were found to have a pro-Irish employment policy.Both are major contractors to government or local bodies.

We checked with employment and recruitment agencies which provided workers to these companies. The only person who would speak to us and then on the condition of anonimity explained that there was less risk of those workers participating in action advocating better working conditions or wages. The major traffic control company stated that their company obtained work on the basis that “the girls are better looking than you guys”.

Our issue is NOT with the backpackers, but with the fact that these are jobs which unemployed Australians and Australian permanent residents have been trained, often at government expense, for. Why are these jobs not going to those people?? Its difficult to understand how foreigners can possibly be more familiar with the nuances of the traffic control industry than locals.

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