How much traffic controllers earn: Backpacker warns over Australian work ‘scam’

Traffic controllers can earn more than $100,000 per year so it is a popular choice of job among backpackers, but one traveller has warned it is a “scam”.

Kerry, a backpacker originally from Ireland, recently shared why she wouldn’t recommend the job to other travellers visiting Australia.

She said, while she was paid $45 an hour in Sydney, shifts were hard to come by and she spent $600 of her own cash on training and uniforms.

“It’s the biggest scam in Australia for backpackers,” she warned in the video, which was shared on Thursday.

“People are coming to Australia and spending hundreds on traffic control courses thinking they’re going to get loads of hours and it’s going to be a full-time, stable job.

“If that’s the case, just go work in bar work or hospitality because it’s so much easier.”

She said she worked for two traffic control companies and completed a range of courses “in the middle of f**king nowhere”, and bought her own uniform.

Then, after dropping several hundred dollars on the gig, Kerry said she was put on a casual roster and some weeks didn’t get any shifts at all.

“I’m like sorry, sir, I actually have to pay rent here, can I have some hours?” she said.

“My boss used to text me at like 11pm at night and say, ‘oh you’re in at 6am’, like can you at least give me 24 hours notice?”

The Irish woman said once she secured a shift, the work could be hours away and her company did not supply her a car.

“Don’t be rushing over here to be a traffic control worker, it’s nothing like it’s made out to be and it’s f**king boring!” she said.

Of course, traffic control work is so well-paid due to some of those factors. Traffic controllers typically receive a casual rate of between $24 and $30 an hour, as well as penalty rates for working on weekends, public holidays or at night, and extra cash for travel allowances, superannuation and meals.

Those who are members of unions tend to be the most well-off, with Kerry saying she knew some women who’d “made bank” at union jobs.

Traffic controllers with the CFMEU in Victoria, for instance, earn up to $135 an hour on public holidays and $49.20 an hour on regular shifts, as well as allowances for travel, meals and if they have to live away from home.

Still, other backpackers said they, too, were disappointed by traffic control work Down Under.

“Same in WA, most unstable job. I haven’t had hours for weeks now and sometimes we find out we fly one day before,” one person wrote.

“I agree!! It’s sooo hit and miss. I did it in Darwin and got one full week of work and the rest got two days sometimes one or none!” said another.

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