Migrant cooks, property managers, nurses, and roof tiler in Sydney and other parts of Australia are reported to have less restrictions than other Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) partners. Australia was accused of not conducting labour market testing prior to hiring overseas workers from its partners.


Labour market testing


Labour market testing is used to establish that there is a shortage of workers in a country, thus necessitating migrant workers. Under the TPP, these workers could come in from Malaysia, Vietnam, Chile, Canada, and more.


According to the agreement signed on March 8, Australia has allowed employers to hire overseas workers from six countries without checking if an Australian can do the job instead. While overseas workers who wish to work in Australia still need to follow other requirements such as qualification, minimum skill, and experience, this allows faster hiring of employees from abroad. These countries are Vietnam, Mexico, Canada, Malaysia, Japan, and Chile. Australia already has similar agreements with Singapore, New Zealand, Thailand, China, and Korea.


Reciprocal Offers


According to the Convener of the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network (AFTINET) Patricia Renald, other trade partners offer reciprocal offers. However, reciprocal offers does not automatically mean equal offers. Some countries allowed waiving the labour market testing for high-level positions and high-skilled jobs like inter-corporate transferees, specialists, and senior executives. This is a start contrast to the jobs listed for shortage of skilled workers such as hairdressers, cooks, bakers, barristers, carpenters, property managers, and roof tiler in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, and other areas in Australia.


Treating workers “as if commodities”


AFTINET explains that they oppose including temporary work provisions in the agreement because it would seem that they are treating workers like commodities. Ranald adds that if the government can maintain control over labour market policies, they can make sure that the workers wouldn’t be exploited.


They further explain that overseas workers are highly vulnerable because if they lose their jobs, they can get deported. The employers sponsor their stay in the country, and once their employment is terminated, they would have to leave  the country. This gives them fewer rights than permanent migrants— and to avoid such disparities, Australia has to have more control in its labour market.