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Caro Meldrum-Hanna

4corners: Slaving Away - how immigrants are enslaved in Australia and workers in general exploited

Republished from the Australian investigative program, 4Corners: Slaving Away By Caro Meldrum-Hanna and Ali Russell, a program about slavery in Australia today. Although the program focuses on the abuse of backpackers on 457 visas and tourists working illegally in the fruit picking and chicken meat packaging industry, this is just the tip of an iceberg of exploitation that has arisen in Australia with massive increases in immigration at the same time as our industrial law protection has been wrecked. At the same time, cheap imports have made it impossible for many honest and worthwhile businesses to survive, whilst the loss of industrial protection has created an opportunity for corporations to exploit people to the max. The program also reflects another effect of globalisation and mass immigration - the high cost of housing. The enslaved temporary or illegal immigrants in this documentary are usually packed into unsavory premises for which they pay rent. Some might argue that since these people are paid wages - albeit slave wages - they are not slaves. However when you do not actually get paid on time and are kept in debt to your employer for rent and other charges, and when you do not speak English and have no idea where you are, and so cannot begin to extricate yourself - this amounts not only to slavery, but to illegal detention. Apparently Australian authorities claimed that it was too difficult to find these abusive enterprises, yet 4Corners was easily able to uncover this frightening industry, with the cooperation of the exploited and trapped workers. It looks like government is complicit at all levels.

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