Earlier this week Yarra Trams staff held a rally outside head office to protest the recent sackings of tram drivers, as well as union claims of harsh treatment by management.
Organised by the Tram and Bus division of the Victorian Rail Tram and Bus Union, among the signs held up by protestors was one reading “No more 457 Visas” – which confused me a little since it wasn’t the point of the rally.
The Department of Immigration and Border Protection has the following to say on the visa:
The Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457) allows skilled workers to come to Australia and work for an approved business for up to four years.
You must be sponsored by an approved business. A business can sponsor someone for this visa if they cannot find an Australian citizen or permanent resident to do the skilled work.
Unions have never been happy with the 457 visa program – for many years employers were never required to prove they advertised for a local candidate to fill the position before they turned to imported labour.
As for Yarra Trams, a quick internet search on the company name and “457 visa” turned up a selection of advertisements on job boards in the United Kingdom, such as this one from 2011 looking for a Performance Manager, to be paid $135k to $145k a year.
And this one from 2012 looking for a Business Unit Manager, on a salary of $120k to $130k a year.
And a current one, where they are looking for a Director of Major Projects – $230K is nice money, assuming you are ready to report directly to the Chief Executive Officer of Yarra Trams.
With all of the above advertisements being for upper level management jobs, at least the union should be relieved that Yarra Trams isn’t importing drivers from overseas on 457 visas – yet!
The railway system of Great Britain is the oldest in the world, having been established by private companies in the early 19th century, nationalised under the banner of British Rail in 1948, and then broken up again by a Conservative government at the tail end of their grand privatisation experiment.
Today the management structure of railways in Britain is labyrinthine and perplexing – a web of infrastructure owners and regulators, franchisors and train operators, train owners and infrastructure maintenance providers.
If you can see the similarities between Britain and the current management mess that rules Melbourne’s public transport system, should shouldn’t be surprised – Jeff Kennett used Britain as a model when privatising our railways during the late 1990s, and the management ranks here have been full of ex-Brits ever since.