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Macpac shutdown a call for Govt to wake up

25 July, 2003
Macpac shutdown a call for Govt to wake up

Green Party Co-leader Rod Donald said today he Government was failing domestic manufacturers following the closure of the Macpac manufacturing operation in Christchurch with the loss of 150 jobs.

"The decision by Macpac to close its doors and put 150 people out of work was worse than sad," said Mr Donald. "It highlights the failure of the Government to protect domestic manufacturers and their staff.

"I reluctantly accept that Macpac had no choice but to lay off 150 staff and shift production offshore because the alternative was bankruptcy.

"The Government has to decide whose side it is on: New Zealand manufacturers and workers or importers and foreign financial speculators.

"The inflated value of the New Zealand dollar, pushed up by excessive interest rates, has benefited foreign investors at the expense of New Zealand manufacturers and exporters.

"On top of that, local manufacturers face unfair competition because they have to pay proper wages and meet acceptable labour and environmental standards whereas their competitors are able to import products made in sweatshop conditions," said Mr Donald.

He added that this situation called for the need to maintain existing tariffs on textiles, clothing and footwear at the very least.

"Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton would do more to help the New Zealand economy if he campaigned for international labour, humanitarian and environmental standards to be enforced in countries like China than trying to force other countries to open their markets to our exports.

"New Zealand and the world desperately needs trade that is based on fairness rather than exploitation. Macpac's decision demonstrates that we are still going in the wrong direction.

"The immediate casualties are 150 New Zealand workers and the underpaid and exploited Asian staff who will replace them," said Mr Donald.


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