In the assessment of human dignity and the Temporary Skilled Workers Visa, it is crucial to understand what is implied by human dignity. Human dignity can be interpreted as the need to protect against mistreatment and brings about matters that include the right to fair wages and better working environment, the right to be a member of a trade union, the development of fair bargaining power and protecting employees from unfair dismissal from work (Lebech, ). This study focuses on the respect for dignity of human beings and the Temporary Skilled Workers Visa, which was nicknamed the 457 Visa or the Business Long Stay Visa, in which the inadequacy of labor in Australia in 1996 led to the creation of 457 Visa. The Visa457 was set up to allow multinational corporations to import high-level employees and specialist team into Australia to work on a temporary and renewable basis in the management roles (Birrell & Healy, 1997).
The 457 Visa scheme was introduced as a result of a shortage of skilled laborers in Australia because there were falling numbers of workers taking up training in relevant fields and inadequacy in the skilled labor of the new graduates in the country (Bahn, 2013). However, the policy of Visa 457 saw the Australian company under fire for the allegations from the overseas workers that they are exploited their human dignity is not respected by the crooked employers and migration agents.
As a human being, every person has the right to be respected and not humiliated in the workplace or anywhere else. To respect human dignity means that one person must recognize another person’s presence and relate to them in a manner that enhances their personal being. In the ordinary circumstances, the work individuals engage in usually takes up a colossal percentage of their entire lives. Thus, their self-image can be profoundly affected by the work they do and how they are treated in the workplace. The 457 Visa policy saw the foreign temporary skilled workers streaming in the Australian companies and taking the local jobs (Maslen, 2007). Their streaming in Australia also saw the local citizens complaining that 457 Visa scheme has pushed down the wages of the local employees, thus leading to their detriment (Bahn, 2013).
The employers treated the migrant temporary skilled worker as a source of cheap labor and making them dependent on their employer for their needs. The employers undermined the human dignity of the temporary skilled workers as seen in the case of Anbalagan Rajendran, which was detailed by Michelle Bissett and Ingrid Landau showing the patterns of abuse and mistreatment of the migrant. Brought into the Australian labor industry by the owner of four Indian restaurants in Australia, Bissett and Landau argued that during the stay of Anabalagan Rajendran, his human dignity was disrespected. First, the employer made him dependent on him for food, money, accommodation, and even transportation. Second, the employer never showed him any work roster, and he would be taken from his place of residence and driven to the restaurants of work. Thirdly, Rajendran was made to work at least 14 hours a day, seven days a week and for duration of straight 40 weeks without any work leave.
Furthermore, Rajendran was not even given off-to-work when he was sick. In exchange for all the job he did, Rajendran was not paid any wage. He was only paid until when the Workplace Ombudsman inquired and investigated into his treatment in the workplace restaurant. Rajendran’s employer claimed that he would give him wages for duration of one year claiming that he must compensate his airplane ticket to Australia. It is evidenced that in each and every circumstance of Rajendran’s mistreatment, an element of human dignity was violated. Additionally, the Visa 457 scheme has abused the labor market of Australian, as it necessitated the discrimination against Australian laborers.
Considering the Perspective 1; The 457 visa scheme allows businesses to value overseas workers for contributing to the business and the wider Australian economy. These laborers as a result feel valued by their companies and their society for their contribution. According to the information, one may find reading through, the issue of migrant puts into criticism the forms through which the sphere of the public sensibilities on mobility and sociality are faked. Bissett and Landau (1997), the Australian labor industry is mandated to respect and promote the rights of workers as outlined in the ILO, which identified four core labor standards that are contained in the Declaration of Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work of 1998 (Maslen, 2007).
These principles define the social attitudes, values, and the circumstances involved in the perspectives illustrated in this paper. They include freedom of association and the right to be involved in bargaining collectively; the freedom from forced labor; freedom from biases in employment that includes equal remuneration corresponding to work of equivalent amount; and lastly the freedom from harmful child labor. Since Australia is a member of ILO, it must promote and realize the four principles (Bissett and Landau, 1997).
In perspective 1, since the workers under 457 Visa are valued by their employees for the work they do, they should be treated fairly and remunerated well. The social norms involved include fair treatment at places of work, commensurable remuneration and the freedom of fair bargaining since the workers contribute a lot to the economy of Australia. It means that workers’ dignity should be respected, and their work should be recognized and receive fair remuneration. However, most employees have not respected the concerns in perspective 1. The human dignity element violation is seen when Rajendran’s employer denied him his wages for duration of one year, claiming that he was compensating the air ticket. According to Bahn (2013), the decision to be employed in another nation creates a greater apprehension of the social transfer for both the laborers and their families. The laborers together with their families often make critical decisions to relocate to another country. Therefore, it is the mandate of the employers to cater for all costs incurred during the processing f the the visa for the workers.
The migrant laborers have always found it challenging to work in a foreign country but rewarding as well. It implies that the employers should also respect the sacrifices the migrant workers make to add value to the economy of Australia. Bahn (2013) believes that the overseas investments support vast Australian projects. Therefore, the Australian economy and the employers have the advantage of using the 457 Visa laborers with the required skills since they bring the security of completing the project stages and on time within the stipulated budget. It, therefore, help the economy in moving towards subsequent production stages with ease. This is a clear indication that the migrant workers contribute a lot to the economy of Australia and, thus their dignity should be respected.
Another element of that shows the violation of human dignity is the instances where Rajendran’s employer made him depend on him for food, money, accommodation, and transport. This is violation of the norms of the dignity of human beings. According to Bissett and Landau (2013), the Article 8 of the UDHR provided that everyone is entitled to an adequate remedy for any competent national tribunal for acts that violates the fundamental rights given to them by the constitution or law. The 457 Visa has tied employees to a particular employer leaving them with no or little bargaining power (Maslen, 2007).
There is a clear indication that the 457 Visa scheme contributes to the detriment of the migrant workers (Maslen, 2007). It has paved the way for the employers to intentionally mistreat their migrant employees through making them dependent on them for any financial need. Again the threat of deportation discourages workers from speaking out their grievances against the employers (Bissett and Landau, 2013). Furthermore, the obliteration of unfair dismissal laws for the small businesses by the Work Choices legislation of the coalition government further worsened the problems 457 Visa workers faced in their attempts to redress for the abuse of their human rights (Bissett and Landau, 2013). In this perspective, the circumstance of allowing employers to value overseas worker can be jeopardized by the employers allow them to underpay their migrants employees. This is clearly seen when Rajendran’s employer intentionally denied him his wages for a year forcing him to depend on him for food, transport, money and accommodation. There was nothing he could do as in this perspective; the employer is allowed to value him and pay him whatever amount he felt like.
In Perspective 2: The 457 visa scheme allows unscrupulous employers and migration agents to exploit overseas workers with pay and conditions below Australian standards, and even to treat them in a way not befitting their dignity. According to Velayutham (2013), there are disturbing cases of exploitation and maltreatment of the temporary work visa migrants which are reported continuously. The cases cannot be consistently dismissed as they pinpoint the inherent systematic problems of relying heavily on temporary work visa scheme, in which vulnerable employees are dependent on their employers for their ongoing visa status (Velayutham, 2013).
The social attitudes involved in this perspective include mistreatment and forced labor. Bissett and Landau (2013), argue that the laborers on 457 Visa program raised complaints about the unlawful employment circumstances. Their complaints include harassments and pressurizing them through the denial of shifts and wage payments; they were threatened with violence; they were not allowed to make telephone calls to their families back at home, and evicting them from the accommodation they were provided for by their employers. These circumstances are clearly demonstrated through the mistreatments of Rajendran by his boss.
According to Bissett and Landau (2013), Rajendran was under circumstances that he was never shown a work roster, but rather, he would just be picked up from home and taken to the successive workplace. This act violated the dignity of Rajendran since he was not given the right to choose a place of work and be assigned a specific job that is good at. Further, he was forced to work for a minimum of 14 hours every day for seven days a week and straight 40 weeks. This act is dehumanizing and completely violates human dignity (Cover, 2015). Every individual has the right to a shift of work and a considerable duration of working time (Velayutham, 2013). In case the working hours are extended, the employee should be paid overtime, of which Rajendran was never paid even a cent for a whole one year.
Another circumstance in which Rajendran’s dignity was vulnerable was the time he was sick, and the employer forced him to go and work. According to Velayutham (2013), the migrant laborers go through a lot of difficulties in Australia. They are vulnerable engendered by the process of recruitment, the circumstances under which they receive their visas, the unlawful malpractices of the employers and the disorganized and living arrangement and living conditions (Cover, 2015). In the case of Rajendran, his boss dictated for him where to live. This maltreatment is not accepted by an organization as they can dictate to their employees what they can do and what they should not. In the event that the employee disagrees with the ideas of the boss, he is evicted and deported. These conditions made Rajendran suffer in silence. The employer compromised his dignity.
The actions of human dignity that could be jeopardized by any actions arising from perspective 2 include the putting the lives under 457 Visa vulnerable to mistreatment and harassments by greedy employers and migration agents. The companies would pay their workers’ wages below the standards of the Australian wages and would pay them as little amount as they could. The dignity of the workers would be jeopardized and mistreated.
In conclusion, it is clearly seen that the introduction of the 457 Visa scheme brought a lot of detriments to the migrant laborers in Australia. The employers took advantage of the position and mistreated them by underpaying them, thereby making them depend on their employees for food, transport, money, and accommodation. There is the need for the Australian government to review the policies under the scheme and enact laws that protect migrant workers, as these workers contribute a larger percentage of the country’s economy.