Businesses are being forced to choose between standing down local workers who will get government support or migrant workers who aren’t eligible for benefits and can’t get home.
According to a heartbreaking report in The Sydney Morning Herald, business owners are calling on the government to protect migrant workers.
Business forced to choose between workers
The SMH spoke to workers, business owners, industry groups and unions about the issue, including James Sinclair, CEO of restaurant chain TGI Fridays.
The company’s revenue has dried up as a result of the national shutdown.
Sinclair now faces a tough choice:
If he keeps on its migrant workers, rather than Australian workers who benefit from the government’s $1500 a fortnight JobKeeper payment, the company will save more than $1.1 million in wages over the next six months.
Conversely, if it lays off its 60 migrant workers they will have no access to any income whatsoever.
That’s why Sinclair is begging the government to make visa workers eligible for JobKeeper:
“These are hardworking, outstanding family people.
“They are rightly fearful about their future, they paid tax here, and they can’t leave.”
Unions say half of migrant workers without work
The SMH reports data from a Unions NSW survey of 3700 migrant workers, which reveals half had lost their jobs because of coronavirus.
Furthermore, fewer than 2 percent had accessed help, whether charitable or from the government.
Additionally, 43 percent were skipping meals out of financial necessity.
Migrant workers deserve protection
Industrial advocate Miles Heffernan says the government needs to support migrant workers.
“These hardworking employees pay tax, and they deserve protection during this horrible crisis.
“What’s the alternative? Have a cohort of our community slip into poverty and homelessness? – It’s a no brainer.”
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