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Plenty of backpackers and international students arrive in Australia every day and they are looking for an adventure. Some end up extending the holiday by finding some work to keep the good times rolling but it appears there are others who are having nothing but bad times.
A new report has found the sickening practices that employers are imposing on people from overseas. The research, conducted by UNSW, Sydney University and UTS, has found that exploitation is both 'endemic' and 'severe'. In other words, it's savage.
While there have been reports here and there about the conditions, this latest research finds out how deep the wombat hole goes.
The report also found two thirds of foreigners employed as waiters and kitchen staff were paid cash in hand. Credit: Creative Commons
One third of international students and backpackers are being paid about half the minimum wage.
Think about that for a second. There are people working their asses off to help pay for their time in Australia and they're receiving a little less than $9 an hour.
Most of us know that living in some of the more popular parts of Australia isn't cheap, and nine bucks an hour won't really cut it. Well, it might pay for bare essentials but there's not much quality of life in that.
Report co-author Bassina Farbenblum said: "We also received indicators of much more serious exploitation which indicate criminal forced labour, for example. And we have a substantial amount of people working in really exploitative conditions.
"We found the overwhelming majority of international students and backpackers are aware they are being underpaid. However, they believe few people on their visa expect to receive the legal minimum wage."
Credit: Creative Commons
More than 4,000 temporary migrants from 107 countries were surveyed for the study, but their wage wasn't the only thing that was concerning.
Ninety-one people said their employers confiscated their passports and a further 173 respondents claimed that they had to pay a deposit of up to $1,000 to secure their job.
Senior law lecturer at UTS, Laurie Berg added: "At some point, virtually everyone in this country has enjoyed food or services that have involved serious underpayment of international students or backpackers.
"It's in everything, from buying your morning coffee to refuelling your car, wage theft is endemic in these industries."
Unsurprisingly, their report also found that, on average, more than 40 percent of overseas workers are paid in cash. That number jumps to two thirds when you focus just on those who work as waiters and kitchen-hands.