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Sunday, December 21, 2008

TweetThis! An 457 nurse sacked for arriving pregnant

  • Friday morning, August 15, she reports to the hospital with huspand to pick up her "welcome pack".
  • In passing, she mentiones that she was worried her uniform wouldn't fit because she was pregnant.
  • The company revokes her sponsorship under the "457 program".
That is, in a nutshell, what transpired to a Tanzanian born, a Nurse, Ms Katula, 28, trained in Britain, worked in the US now in Austaralia for what would have been her 'new place'. She was sacked by the company, Healthscope Group, she had travelled to work for because she was pregnant which means that she can not live in Australia now. Ms. Katula was offered a job after applying for it in May while she and her husband, Mr. Deus Makoy, 32, were in the USA.

Ms Katula lives in her home Victor Harbor, S. of Adelaide and she is aiming at potentially landmark discrimination proceedings in the South Australian Equal Opportunity Tribunal. The company, Healthscope, which manages the Memorial Hospital for its owner Adelaide Community Healthcare Alliance, never asked whether she was pregnant. The company says it was put in an impossible position by Ms Katula’s pregnancy, exposing a serious flaw in the 457 visa system. As per her statement of complaint filed in the Tribunal, she was informed by two hospital managers that she was required to attend at a travel agency the following day with the aim of immediately booking an air ticket out of Australia to Tanzania. She was shocked by the news. She says, "they were saying I couldn’t meet the visa conditions because I was going to take time off work to have the baby".

The controversial foreign worker program, an 457 visa system, was introduced by the Howard government and retained by Labor to ease the shortage. The health sector in Australia with hospitals requiring an estimated 5000 additional nurses,  has been very reliant on this program. If you would like to learn more about this type of visa, please click here or you may read it from the wiki page.

Under the federal law, Healthscope was required to pay Ms Katula a minimum salary over 12 months and, if she was not going to be at work because she was having a baby. The company could not comply with that. This created a conflict with state equal opportunity law — the impossible situation where the company was going to breach federal legislation if it kept Ms Katula on and South Australian law if it didn’t.

Ms Katula insists there was no issue because she would have taken only the leave she had accrued between starting work at the Memorial Hospital in August and the birth of her baby (due next week).

Ms Katula wonders how she could have breached migration rules when she did disclosed her condition to the Immigration Department that had issued her visa. If they knew it was a problem, maybe it should have been raised with me before I was granted the visa and came here to work, Ms Katula said.

Ms Katula has a new sponsor and job, nursing at an aged care centre in Victor Harbor. She said she would not stop working until she had to.

Most of this news info was made possible throught the "The Australian" news website.

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