Unions take Government to court over foreign worker visas

THE Maritime Union of Australia and the Australian Maritime Officers Union look set challenge the government in the court room claiming it acted beyond its powers surrounding issuing visas to foreign workers for the purposes of working in Australia's offshore oil and gas industry.

They claim the government's push to bring in foreign workers could undermine Australian jobs in the offshore oil and gas sector.

The contentious point has been the government's introduction of the maritime crew visa which requires no labour market testing and can be used to hire foreign workers on greatly reduced pay and conditions compared to their Australian counterparts.

The controversial proposal was initially blocked in the Senate, but the government used a legislative instrument which eliminated the need for foreign workers to obtain a visa if their ship was not tethered to the Australian seabed.

Australian Maritime Officers Union president Wayne Moore said this was about protecting Australian jobs so the oil and gas sector would not be flooded with cheap foreign labour.

"The Australian people know that opening the back door to cheap foreign labour is not the answer," he said.

"We need to maintain our maritime skills base and ensure the viability of Australian jobs in the offshore sector."

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