13 December 2005
Trade Ministers Meet Global Unions At WTO Ministerial In Hong Kong
New Zealand Government Ministers Jim Sutton and Phil Goff used a meeting with the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) in Hong Kong yesterday to outline the government's continuing commitment to seek better recognition of labour issues in trade negotiations, Peter Conway, Council of Trade Unions Economist said.
Peter Conway is at the WTO Ministerial meeting in Hong Kong as part of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade delegation.
"Unfortunately there are very few countries joining New Zealand in affirming the need for recognition of labour issues," said Peter Conway. "Unions are determined however to keep pushing for references in WTO documents to the International Labour Organisation, and preventing countries from getting trade advantages based on child labour, forced labour, discrimination and removal of union rights."
Peter Conway said other matters discussed at the meeting included global union concerns about the pressures being put on developing countries to remove important protections in manufacturing and to make offers to open up their services markets.
"We also discussed unions' support for a genuine development round focusing on improved market access in agriculture, along with developed countries reducing domestic support for agriculture and ending export subsidies," said Peter Conway.
Peter Conway said that the ICFTU welcomed the fact that Ministers took the time in a busy day of meetings to meet with unions and discuss their concerns. The ICFTU represents 145 million workers through its 234 affiliated organisations in 154 countries and territories.