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Zero Tariffs Equal Zero Workers, Warn Greens

Zero tariffs equal zero workers, warn Greens

The Green Party is challenging Commerce Minister Lianne Dalziel to visit newly-redundant Levin clothing workers, to learn first-hand the cruel reality of her Government's threat to reduce clothing tariffs.

Levin clothing manufacturer L.R. Wishart announced its closure today, citing tariff reduction over a number of years and uncertainty over the future direction of the Government's tariff policy. Thirty-eight workers will lose their jobs as a result of the closure.

"L.R. Wishart is a Levin institution, and the town's oldest clothing maker," Green Co-leader Rod Donald said today. "Its closure and the loss of all those jobs will be a body blow to the town. Our sympathies are with the loyal workers laid off through no fault of their own, and with their families.

"However, the saddest aspect of this latest blow to our home-grown clothing and textile industry is the Government's refusal to accept that abandoning all tariff protection for our manufacturers will result in catastrophe for the thousands of workers still employed in the industry.

"In Parliament this week, I asked the Commerce Minister if she had visited and talked with clothing workers in places like Levin and Lower Hutt about the effect that even the threat of tariff cuts is having on their job security.

"Ms Dalziel didn't give me - or those workers - the courtesy of a reply, but did defend the Government's decision to head towards zero tariffs by saying it 'will not make a significant difference'.

"I would respectfully ask Ms Dalziel to go to Levin and explain to the redund
ant staff that their unemployment hasn't made a 'significant difference.' I doubt they will agree.

"Clothing workers all over New Zealand will be outraged to learn that the Labour Government doesn't believe their jobs are worth protecting. "The stupidity of the Government's tariff policy was further exposed this week by the United States decision to back down on pushing for a tariff-free world. Perhaps Lianne could explain to the redundant Levin workers why New Zealand can't see the value in protecting our own industries, when our trading partners do.

Meanwhile, Green Employment Spokesperson Sue Bradford challenges the Government to explain if destroying jobs is what they really mean by "jobs jolt". "Getting rid of jobs through tariff changes and forcing people to move because there are no local jobs is what you would expect from a new-right Government not a Labour Government," Ms Bradford said.


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