About one in three backpackers in Australia are paid around half the minimum wage they should expect to receive. A new study by two Sydney-based universities said the policy amounted to direct "wage theft."
Backpackers and international students are getting a rough deal in casual jobs in Australia, a joint survey by the University of New South Wales and the University of Technology Sydney has found.
The study issued Tuesday said most of the workers employed as fruit pickers to dish washers earned well below Australia's minimum wage, with people on working-holiday or student visas accounting for 11 percent of the nation's jobs, mostly in restaurants and takeaways, meatpacking, cleaning and child care.
"The study reveals that Australia has a large, silent under-class of migrant workers who are paid well below the minimum wage," senior law lecturer Bassina Farbenblum said in a statement.
The survey also found that workers from Asian countries including China, Taiwan and Vietnam were paid less than workers from North America, Ireland and the UK.
According to the study, fruit and vegetable pickers were the worst paid. Growers rely on young people on holiday visas who in turn can extend their visas to stay for a second year, if they complete three months of work in the rural industry.
The findings came amid a broader debate among policymakers in the country about insufficient wages, with the latest figures showing annual pay rates grew at a slow 2 percent in the third quarter.
hg/jd (Reuters, dpa)