ACTUwary on mi­gra­tion push

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UNIONS are con­cerned about a Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment fo­cus on mi­gra­tion to tackle skill short­ages in the work­place. Aus­tralian Coun­cil of Trade Unions pres­i­dent Ged Kear­ney says unions re­main to be con­vinced that in­creas­ing Aus­tralia’s skilled mi­gra­tion pro­gram is any­thing but a Band-Aid so­lu­tion.

She says skilled mi­gra­tion, par­tic­u­larly En­ter­prise Mi­gra­tion Agree­ments, must be sub­jected to strin­gent test­ing in the labour mar­ket.

‘‘And must not be al­lowed to un­der­mine the wages and con­di­tions of Aus­tralian work­ers,’’ she says.

The ACTU wel­comes new Gov­ern­ment ini­tia­tives, how­ever, which aim to get more Aus­tralians into work, im­prove skills and longterm op­por­tu­ni­ties for some of the com­mu­nity’s most dis­ad­van­taged peo­ple.

‘‘There is no more im­por­tant in­vest­ment than in Aus­tralians’ skills,’’ she says.

‘‘We sup­port an ad­di­tional $220 mil­lion to sup­port ap­pren­tices through men­tor­ing, to en­cour­age a higher com­ple­tion rate.

‘‘But it is dis­ap­point­ing there is no men­tion in (last month’s Fed­eral) Bud­get of a re­view of ap­pren­tice and train­ing wages and con­di­tions by Fair Work Aus­tralia.’’

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