Iron ore project gets go ahead to recruit 1,700 foreign workers

by Ray Clancy on May 29, 2012

in Australia Immigration

EMA to enable employers to recruit from overseas for jobs in the resources sector

Australia’s first Enterprise Migration Agreement (EMA) aimed at enabling employers to recruit foreign workers for jobs in the resources sector has been confirmed.

The EMA will allow the Roy Hill iron ore project in Western Australia operated by Hancock Prospecting to sponsor up to 1,715 workers for the three year construction phase through the 457 visa programme where they cannot find Australians to fill the positions.

Chris Bowen, minister for Immigration and Citizenship, and Martin Ferguson, minister for Resources and Energy, said that the first EMA was an important development in helping to meet critical skills shortages in the resources sector.

‘The government’s first priority is always ensuring jobs for Australian workers, but there is a need for temporary workers to help keep our economy strong. With more than 8,000 workers required during the construction phase of the Roy Hill project, there simply aren’t enough people in the local workforce to get the job done,’ explained Bowen.

EMAs are a custom designed, project wide migration arrangement uniquely suited to the resources sector, ensuring skill shortages do not create constraints on major projects or jeopardise Australian jobs.

Bowen said the project will support Australian jobs in the economy through training and apprenticeships, which are an integral part of the agreement, and follows rigorous consultation with state and territory governments, industry and unions.

‘As part of the EMA, Roy Hill will provide up to 2,000 training places for Australians. This includes places for more than 200 Australian apprentices and trainees, as well as preparing over 100 Indigenous Australians to work in the construction industry,’ Bowen pointed out.

‘The EMA also sets out protections to ensure that foreign workers are only recruited after genuine efforts to first employ Australians, and that visa holders engaged on the project receive the same wages and conditions as their Australian counterparts,’ he said.

The government will also ensure that visa holders are aware of their work place rights and obligations through a specific induction programme, as well as having information available in writing, online and through video presentations.

Ferguson said the agreement with Roy Hill was the first of its kind and will ensure this major resources project gets off the ground and delivers long term jobs and benefits to the local community and broader Australian economy.

‘We need Enterprise Migration Agreements to cut red tape for very large resources projects such as Roy Hill which have a very strong demand for labour. EMAs address one of the biggest risks to many of these projects which is inadequate supply of labour and skills in the short term construction phase,’ he explained.

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