AMIC wants foreign work visa changed

The meat processing sector in Australia is not happy with the government’s requirement for foreign workers to have good English and wants it to be dropped from future visa criteria.

The Australian Meat Industry Council (AMIC) kept this as a highlight in its submission to the Federal Government’s review of Australia’s visa system.

The AMIC submission said that workers on the former subclass 457 skilled visa and subclass 417 working holiday makers were “critical to the successful operation of meat export processing plants”.  The Council said that the requirement for a high level of English for the meat industry was completely unnecessary as it was not needed for the type of work performed in meat processing facilities.

The following is an extract from the Weekly Times Now:

The review came after Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced earlier this year the Government planned to overhaul Australia’s visa system, including ­reducing the number of visas from 99 to about 10.The Government also ­announced it would abolish the 457 skilled visa and replace it with two new classes of visa.

The new provisions will have tougher regulations for temporary work visas, including a requirement for better English language skills.

And 200 jobs were cut from the list of occupations allowed on the new work visa scheme.

The AMIC submission said workers on the former 457 skilled visa and 417 working holiday makers were “critical to the successful operation of meat export processing plants”.

“The shortage of Australian citizens with appropriate skills and willing to work in meat processing establishments ­remains one of the greatest concerns for owners and operators in this industry,” it said.

However, it argues the ­requirement for skilled visa holders to pass a written and oral English language test was too arduous for foreigners and “often beyond even their fellow workers who have been born and educated in ­Australia”.

The AMIC said a high level of English was not necessarily needed for the type of work performed in meat processing facilities.

“A meat processing skilled worker requires physical and technical skills but can effectively operate and live in a community with lower English skills,” the submission said.

The group also wants the method by which skills short­ages are identified by the ­Department of Immigration to be reviewed.

The Government uses the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of ­Occupations system to identify skills shortages.

But the meat processing ­industry body said this system was flawed and would mean some specific occupations ­required within meat processing, including a slaughterman or someone who performed boning and slicing, were not included in the current data gathering system.

“Some skilled and semi-skilled occupations are either not included or are not sufficiently identified as separate occupations which have a skill shortage,” the AMIC submission said.