Crikey’s rough figuring that wages growth is being kept down by Section 457 visa guest workers and other imported labour seems to have been very conservative indeed – the 457 indentured labour scheme has been rocketing ahead faster than even we imagined.

On Monday we were making do with figures for the 2005-06 financial year, but Section 457 visas jumped by 17% in the first half of the current financial year.

DIAC issued nearly 40,000 of the 457 guest worker visas in 05-06, up by about 45% on the previous year according to the AFR. If the growth rate set in the December half is maintained, this year’s total will be 46,800.

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The great thing from an employer’s point of view about this type of non-migration is that the guest workers are effectively bound to the sponsoring company for the years that they’re here and can’t reap the usual benefit of living in a free society with an open labor market – you don’t have to worry about them accepting a better offer from the company down the road.

Along with the skilled migration intake – much of which is also company-sponsored — it’s playing a major role in keeping wages growth well below the rise in company profits.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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