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Thais urge NZ: please don’t trade with sweatshops

Thais urge New Zealand: please don’t trade with sweatshops

Green Party Co-leader Rod Donald is hosting two Thai campaigners against the so-called ‘free trade’ agreement currently being negotiated between the governments of Thailand and New Zealand.

The duo, law professor Dr Jakkrit Kuanpoth and former sweatshop worker Sripai Nonsee, will be in New Zealand for the week 10th - 17th September. They will speak at the Trade Aid national conference in Christchurch (11th September) before holding public meetings around the country on how a free trade agreement would hurt jobs, wages and working conditions and damage the environment in both countries.

As well as public appearances, the campaigners are available for media interviews. Sripai will also be visiting clothing stores to see for herself the destination of the many brand-name goods made in Thai sweatshops by poorly-paid young female workers like herself.

Christchurch: 13th September, 7:30pm - addressing Public Meeting on ramifications of a Thai-NZ free trade deal. Trade Union Centre, cnr Armagh and Madras Streets.

Wellington: 15th September, 7:30pm - Public Meeting. St John’s Hall, cnr Willis and Dixon Streets.

Auckland: 16th September, 7:30pm - Public Meeting. Trades Hall, 147 Great Nth Rd, Grey Lynn.

Dr Jakkrit Kuanpoth is Associate Professor, School of Law, Sukhothai Thammathirat University.
He holds degrees from the University of Warwick and the University of Aberdeen. He is currently a Visiting Senior Fellow at the Centre for Asia Pacific Social Transformation Studies at the University of Wollongong, Australia. He specialises in international intellectual property law, law and medicine, biotechnology law and international trade regulation. He has advised the Thai government on a number of issues.

Dr Kuanpoth speaks excellent English.

Ms Sripai Nonsee is from a farming family and came to Bangkok to find employment when she was 17. She worked for nine years at Par Garments, a typical sweatshop contracting to manufacture garments for global brand names such as The Gap, Tommy Hilfiger, Wal-Mart and Gymboree.

She was so active in organising workers at the non-unionised factory that at age 20 she became the first president of its union. She was sacked by Par Garments when she tried to help unionise another factory owned by the same company. She now works with NGOs who are helping factory workers organise.

The campaigners are being brought to New Zealand by a number of groups including: the Green Party, NZ Council of Trade Unions, Asia Pacific Workers Solidarity Links, Caritas, Oxfam, Trade Aid, CAFCA, ARENA, Christian World Service, Clothing Laundry and Allied Workers Union, MADENZ, Envision NZ.

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