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Like a lunch, there's no such thing as free trade

Like a lunch, there's no such thing as free trade

Green Party Co-Leader Rod Donald says the proposed free trade deal with China will cost businesses business, workers work, and the Labour Government credibility.

"Free trade is like a free lunch, there's no such thing," said Mr Donald, the Green Party Spokesperson on Trade.

"The argument used by Jim Sutton that New Zealand is too small to affect change in China alone is the same argument used by apologists who did business with apartheid South Africa.

"Collective international action can work. It was the economic boycott that brought down apartheid South Africa."

Mr Donald said the introduction of the Employment Relations Act and Occupational Safety and Health amendments showed Labour used to have workers' interests at heart.

"But now Labour is prepared to make a mockery of that good work by doing a deal with a country whose labour standards make Dickensian sweatshops look enlightened.

Mr Donald asked "Why can't the Labour Government see the extraordinary contradiction in undermining that good work by forcing responsible New Zealand businesses to compete against their irresponsible Chinese counterparts?"

"Businesses will go out of business, workers will be put out of work and Labour will lose the support of labour."

Key concerns with China's human rights and labour record raised by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), Amnesty International, and the Green Party are outlined below:

-China has not ratified ILO Convention 105 eliminating forced labour and exports goods made by bonded and prison labour.

- China has not ratified ILO Convention 98 guaranteeing workers the right to organise.

- China prohibits strikes and represses attempts to organise unions that are independent of the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU). The ACFTU is a government-controlled entity.

- Earlier this month China detained three mothers of Tiananmen Square casualties for a week during the 15th anniversary of the crackdown on the fledgling democracy movement. Dozens of people still remain in prison for participating in these protests.


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