Employer ultimatum: sign AWA or foreign workers will  		replace you

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Employer ultimatum: sign AWA or foreign workers will replace you

A major construction company has threatened to replace workers with 457 visa workers unless they sign AWAs, the construction union has claimed.

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A major construction company has threatened to replace workers with 457 visa workers unless they sign AWAs, the construction union has claimed. 

Construction workers employed by John Holland Pty Ltd are involved in constructing transmission lines and towers in Pioneer Valley near Mackay, Queensland. 

The CFMEU says the company is using their own employees, a local sub-contractor and 10 Filipino 457 visa workers on AWAs on the job. Another 50 Filipino workers are expected to join the next stage of the project between Nebo and Broadsound.

National secretary of the construction division of the CFMEU, Dave Noonan, said the Australian workers are currently paid the same conditions as the EBA, which means they get about $1,800.00 for a 46 hour week.

However, the Filipino workers get about $1,022.00 for the same work, with no overtime or penalty rates.

Noonan claims John Holland is now trying to force the Australian workers to sign AWAs, with similar pay and conditions to the Filipino workers, or risk being made redundant before the next stage of the project.

'This is a classic example of a major Australian company using John Howard¹s laws to bring in overseas workers, force them to sign AWAs, pay them less than what Australian workers are worth and use that to force down the pay and conditions of Australian workers,’ he said.

No word from Ombudsman

According to Noonan, the Australian workers complained to Workplace Ombudsman and were interviewed by investigators, but have not heard anything since.

‘It seems Howard's workplace bureaucrats either don't care or are too overworked to defend these workers' rights. Now they have contacted the CFMEU and asked us to take up the case on their behalf,’ he said.

The union is demanding John Holland rule out any cuts to wages and conditions for the local workers.

‘The Filipino workers should be provided with equal wages and conditions for equal work. There should be no forced redundancies for local workers while overseas workers are engaged on temporary work visas,’ Noonan said.

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