Jobs for Aussie workers, protection for migrant labour

CFMEU principles for temporary overseas labour and skilled migration

The CFMEU Construction & General Division takes pride in its migrant membership and welcomes migrants to our industry and our union.

The Union reaffirms our historical stance against all forms of racism and sectarianism.

We support appropriate skilled migration to this country, in particular through permanent migration schemes which do not bind workers to individual employers.

The Union makes no apology for advocating the principle that employers should be compelled to offer jobs to Australian citizens and residents, and to demonstrate that no qualified Australian workers are available before seeking temporary overseas workers.

Government commitment to Australian employment

We note that the policy of the Labor Party, passed unanimously at its most recent National Conference is that Australian workers have primary rights to Australian jobs.

Australian Governments have a clear moral obligation to address high levels of youth unemployment and Indigenous unemployment in many parts of Australia in dealing with labour market issues arising from the current resources boom.

Resource and construction companies must provide more apprenticeships and training to young Australians.

The Union welcomes the implementation of a Jobs Board and statements by the Prime Minister and Government that Enterprise Migration Agreement (EMA) users will be required to offer jobs to Australian residents and citizens before bringing in temporary overseas workers.

Obligations on resources & construction companies

The CFMEU remains concerned that the resources and construction companies seeking temporary overseas labour intend to pay lip service to the Jobs Board and to training young Australians.

The Government must ensure:

  • that use of the Jobs Board is mandatory,
  • that temporary overseas workers are engaged only when no qualified Australian workers are available,
  • that temporary overseas workers are afforded equivalent rates and conditions to locals, which are adequately enforced by Government agencies and unions, and are afforded a real right to join and be represented by unions under Australian law.

EMAs must be published and not remain secret between Government and companies.

CFMEU’s commitment

The CFMEU will continue to campaign with the community and trade union movement to defend Australian jobs and living standards.


  • There are more Australian workers available in 2012 in most of the sub-trades classifications required for resources projects: plant operators, crane drivers, scaffolders, riggers, concreters; not less.
  • In announcing the commencement of the resources Jobs Board, Ministers Chris Bowen, Bill Shorten and Kate Ellis said: “Companies and contractors recruiting overseas workers through EMAs will be required to use the Jobs Board to demonstrate that suitably qualified Australians are given the first opportunity to apply for available jobs”.
  • The Ministers also stated that the Roy Hill Project, which was awarded the first EMA at end May, will be required to use the Jobs Board to recruit Australian workers first.
  • The Roy Hill Project is estimated to create 8000 jobs in the construction phase, according to Rinehart Holdings.
  • The Roy Hill Project EMA permits employment of 1715 temporary foreign workers on 457 visas in sub-trades classifications and certain trades, with English language skills below standard 457 levels.
  • The Roy Hill EMA also does not limit the number of trades or highly skilled 457 visa holders, 457s in sub-trades jobs employed under separate arrangements by contractors etc., or workers on other temporary visas such as Working Holiday Makers.
  • To ensure that temporary overseas workers are only engaged on the Roy Hill project when no qualified Australian workers are available, the Government must enforce mandatory use of the resources Jobs Board by Rinehart Holdings and its contractors, as well as on all other companies awarded EMAs.

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