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Nzei Says Education Must Be Protected From Gats

Nzei Says Education Must Be Protected From Gats

Wellington – NZEI Te Riu Roa says New Zealand’s public education system is not for sale and should be removed from the GATS (General Agreement on Trade in Services) negotiations.

The union has 42,000 members working as teachers in the primary and early childhood sectors, as support staff in all schools, in the school advisory service and in special education.

“By including education as part of the GATS negotiations we are exposing the state school system to the risk of creeping privatisation which could end up with it being controlled by overseas interests,” says NZEI Te Riu Roa National President, Bruce Adin.

“The education of New Zealand’s children is far too important to be left to the private sector and foreign business. It is a core public service and must be excluded from the GATS negotiations,” says Mr Adin.

His comments are in response to an invitation issued today by the Trade Negotiations Minister, Jim Sutton, for submissions on New Zealand’s approach to the GATS negotiations on trading in services, being carried out by the World Trade Organisation. The negotiations include core public services such as education, health, customs, postal and social services.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has today issued a discussion document which gives details on New Zealand’s involvement in the negotiations which shows there have been requests to the Government to lift limits on overseas investment.

“NZEI Te Riu Roa shares the concern stated today by the CTU about the long list of requests to New Zealand from overseas interests as part of the GATS negotiations. The requests cover a wide range of services and include essential public services like education, health and social services,” says Bruce Adin.

“NZEI Te Riu believes education and other core public services are too important to be left vulnerable to being controlled by overseas interests.”

“We join the CTU in calling on the Government to extend the deadline of March 31 that has been given to WTO members for tabling their initial GATS offers. More time is needed to assess the impact of the GATS agreement on essential public services and for the public to be involved in debating the process,” says Bruce Adin.

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