An alliance of 7 national trade unions across the left and right is calling on the ALP to improve their trade policy position ahead of the ALP National Conference next week.
The Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU), Transport Workers’ Union (TWU), Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), Electrical Trades Union (ETU), Australian Workers’ Union (AWU), Textile, Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia (TCFUA) and Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) have joined together in opposing the China Free Trade Agreement and calling for more progressive trade policy that benefits Australian workers.
“Together, we are focused on defending the jobs of skilled Australian workers, and making sure that trade deals don’t sell out jobs,” said AMWU National Secretary Paul Bastian.
“We are also keen to ensure that guest workers are not exploited, and that their visa programs are managed fairly.”
The unions have strongly condemned the Abbott’s Government’s recent signing of the China Free Trade Agreement, and the upcoming Trans Pacific Partnership.
“At the conference, we want to see agreement within the ALP across factional lines on trade,” said AWU National Secretary Scott McDine.
“This is bigger than left and right – it’s about the future of Australian jobs.”
Mr Bastian said “We are calling on the ALP, especially Shadow Minister for Trade Penny Wong and Leader Bill Shorten, to support a strong and progressive position on trade – particularly, a position that protects the rights of workers and the future of jobs.
“In particular, we want to see strong Labor opposition to any agreement that includes Investor-State Dispute Settlement mechanisms (ISDS) and Investment Facilitation Arrangments (IFAs) that allow foreign workforces to be brought to Australia.”
The unions are seeking a firm commitment from Labor that they will prevent or block trade agreements that contain these provisions.
Mr McDine said “Under the China Free Trade Agreement, we see the ability for local workers to be locked out of working on local projects, and for foreign workforces to be brought into Australia.
“Its time for Labor to stand up and say no to such provisions. Their current strategy of ducking and weaving on trade policy isn’t good enough.”
The joint unions will be moving motions that call for:
- Labor to oppose all trade agreements with ISDS clauses, and exclude enforceable environmental and labour chapters;
- Labor to oppose agreements that remove labour market testing requirements from work visas; and
- Labor to commit to measures that ensure informed and transparent debate prior to the signing of any agreement.
The union alliance will meet with Senator Penny Wong on Thursday to discuss the issue, but is ready to force movement on this issue at the ALP National Conference.
Media Contact: John Hill 0412197079