Australia′s Bozzii out to curb exploitation of migrant workers | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 24.11.2017
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Australia's Bozzii out to curb exploitation of migrant workers

A new Australian work and travel platform and app called Bozzii hopes to connect local and migrant jobseekers to potential employers. It promises to stand up to the widespread practice of underpaying casual workers.

A couple of weeks ago, Australia saw the launch of a work and travel app plus website called Bozzii. Among other things, it promises to provide assistance to new migrants in the country in order to help them find their way around — and find decent jobs, if they so wish.

Following a new study by two Australian universities, a fresh debate has been triggered about backpackers and international students in the country who are often paid a lot less than the minimum wage. The study speaks of "a large, silent under-class of migrant workers."

Read also: Australia rips off backpackers: study

CEO Sean Garvey tells DW Bozzii will never tolerate the posting of underpaying positions on its web portal or app in an effort to help curb the exploitation of young migrants:

DW: Bozzii surely isn't the only service in Australia to help new arrivals find their way around. Where do you see your market niche?

Sean Garvey: Bozzii is very much needed to improve a number of areas associated with moving to and living in Australia. It will become an informative base for all temporary and permanent migrants moving to and living in Australia.

We plan to provide assistance with visas, tax and general advice. Links such as how to apply for your tax file number (TFN) are provided free of charge. Applying for a TFN to commence work is a simple task, but people are not always informed about this. There are many businesses that charge migrants to assist with doing so.

Bozzii also assists with the social aspect of moving here as quite a lot of people travel alone. We have a meetup section for each region, rideshares to connect travelers and assist them with moving from place to place and a work- and travel-related Buy & Sell section to ensure they are equipped for their time here to name a few.

Read also: Australia ends 457 visa program for skilled workers

The fact that a lot of young foreigners in casual jobs in Australia are often underpaid is not really new; it has been highlighted in many surveys and newspaper reports. It takes two to tango as they say, so what is it, in your opinion, that prompts many new arrivals to work for less than they should?

Coming from the voice of migrants, we believe to combat this issue that everybody should be aware of their rights and informed about the minimum awards and workplace conditions. There are a number of reasons migrants choose to work for less, some are employer-related issues and other issues are related to the position migrants may put themselves in.

In our opinion, there is still a large percentage of migrants uninformed about what is accepted as the minimum workplace conditions in Australia.

Student picking grapes in Australia (picture-alliance/dpa/L. Coch)

Australia employs a lot of young seasonal workers every year, but not all of them get a good deal

Each year approximately 800,000 work and study visas are issued in Australia. Some employers view this as a conveyor belt of employees that will come and go without fuss. The system makes it easy for employers to exploit when there is little or no punishment.

Other jobseeker platforms allow employers to post jobs that do not meet the minimum requirements. The sad thing is, someone will apply and take that job as they have no other option.

Financial hardship for the migrant may also be involved. Migrants often travel without enough money to support themselves before they get work in Australia. This leaves them desperate to try any job available.

Read also: Australia to add 'values' test to citizenship exam

There's only so much you can do about that. But you said you would make sure your jobseeker platform would not be misused to push migrants into underpaid jobs. How exactly are you planning to do this?

We have two main methods to police this aspect:

First, employer accounts and posts will be monitored from the Bozzii admin section. Job adverts and accounts will be deleted or suspended if found guilty of exploitation in the workplace. We will have a zero-tolerance policy for employers that think exploitation of workers is acceptable.

Second, our "Employer Reviews" section gives our members a voice. It is social media-based to provide each member the opportunity to review the employers who they worked for and to seek advice before commencing with a new employer. This should minimize the risk of exploitation as it will be informative. We also have provided a link to the FairWork website which deals with all forms of workplace exploitation in Australia, if our members seek further assistance.

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