IT professionals are being hired on 457 visas in preference to Australian workers at the same time the NSW government outsources public services.
The Public Service Association has called for an urgent inquiry into the Baird government’s decision to contract out public services, replacing full-time local jobs with overseas workers on temporary work visas.
In response to questions from Greens MP David Shoebridge, the government has confirmed it has used people on 457 visas to fill 32 full-time jobs following its decision to outsource ServiceFirst which looks after IT, human resources and payroll services. Minister for Finance, Services and Property Dominic Perrottet said that 32 workers “will continue in the role”.
Mr Shoebridge said the government is “failing to deliver on local jobs”.
“Australia has real depth in IT skills so it is quite extraordinary for the NSW government to bring in 32 workers under 457 visas,” Mr Shoebridge said.
“These are the very jobs we want our young IT graduates and IT professionals to be filling so that we build on our local skill base and deliver a strong economic future for the state.”
The PSA fears the government decision is the start of a downward spiral in employment that will flow through to other public services and the disability sector, which will soon be privatised.
“Skilled, experienced local workers in full-time employment are being thrown on the jobs scrapheap by the Baird government through its mass privatisation program and replaced by foreign workers on temporary visas,” PSA general secretary Stewart Little said.
“Is this the way forward for disability services? High needs specialised care dumped in favour of a temporary imported workforce?
“The people of NSW deserve better than living in the ‘temporary’ employment state.”
In response to supplementary questions from Mr Shoebridge during a budget estimates hearing earlier this year, the government said it had brought 32 workers to Australia under the 457 visa program to help introduce its Infosys/Unisys operating systems.
The 32 were described as domain experts who would continue in their role with the NSW government.
The government has said it expects to save $13.4 million over the first six years of its privatisation of ServiceFirst.
Of the 254 people who worked for ServiceFirst, only 22 were transferred to jobs with the new Infosys/Unisys service. There are 144 staff members employed offshore.
A spokesman for the Department of Finance, Services and Innovation said government back office services will employ the latest technology to improve service delivery and provide 24/7 support to consumers.
The reforms will also save around $20 million each year which the government says will be reinvested in front-line services.
The Infosys Limited and Unisys Australia workforce include 70 per cent based in Australia and 30 per cent who are off-shore.
“This workforce includes 15 workers on 457 visas who are domain experts with specialist skills in human resources, finance, procurement and SAP domains, and experts in Infosys quality and governance frameworks,” the spokesman said.
The spokesman said 457 visa holders are only employed to meet critical skills shortages.