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scam alert

Contracting out: Australia Post scam points to wider problems.

Australia Post has found itself involved in a contracting scam involving the use of foreign students as posties and mail deliverers.

The scheme was run via a number of private “training” institutions which brought students to Australia on student visas. But Instead of providing training, the college owners then used the “students” as labour hire workers in their contracting businesses.

The Australian Federal Police, who are investigating the scam, said that the two colleges at the centre of the scam had charged over $9 million in fees to international students as well as claiming approximately $2 million in government funding because of their Registered Training Organisation status.

This is, of course, in addition to the value of the Australia Post contracts. Internal Australia Post spreadsheets obtained by the ABC’s 7.30 show that a company owned by a key figure in the scam, Bobby Singh, was being paid around $60,000 a month by Australia Post.

And that was for only one in a total of four of his contracts.

The case comes only months after revelations of the use of people on working holiday visas (417s) to work at illegally low rates in food picking and processing.  And of course the exploitation of workers on temporary migration (457) visas and the use of such workers to undercut local wages is well known.

The fact is that both Australia’s visa system and its education and training system are being corrupted by employers’ relentless pursuit of cheap labour and by the opportunities presented by the practice of contracting out.  The result is that both local and newly arrived workers lose out.

The telecommunications industry is by no means immune to these trends, as Telstra employees know only too well. That is why the CWU remains committed to maintaining permanent jobs wherever possible.

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