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Another nail in Labour's free trade coffin

8 February 2005

Interlock closure another nail in Labour's free trade coffin

The Government should learn a lesson from Interlock's decision to close its Wellington manufacturing plant, with the loss of 140 jobs, before it embarks upon a free-trade deal with China, the Green Party says.

Assa Abloy New Zealand, formerly Interlock Group, announced today the total closure of its Miramar factory by the end of 2005.

"Interlock has gone from Government darling to the dustbin because of unfair competition from sweatshop manufacturers in China," said Green Co-Leader Rod Donald.

"The Labour Government used to champion Interlock as a successful example of 'elaborately-transformed manufacturing', but it hasn't lifted a finger to save the jobs of 140 highly-skilled Kiwi workers.

"While Interlock's decision to close is a result of unfair competition from cheap Chinese imitations and the high exchange rate, rather than the prospect of tariff cuts on imports, it highlights the inevitable loss of thousands of manufacturing jobs in New Zealand if Labour ever signs an free-trade agreement with the China.

"The Government can't expect New Zealand businesses to pay decent wages, provide safe working conditions, and meet reasonable environmental standards and at the same time force those businesses to compete with foreign manufacturers who show no respect for their workers or the environment.

"Successful Kiwi manufacturers deserve to be protected from the exploitative practices of their foreign competitors rather than thrown to the wolves," Mr Donald said.

Interlock currently exports up to 60 percent of its $100 million annual production and, once the factory closes, will be importing $25 million worth of products for the domestic market.

"Interlock's decision will not only lead to the net loss of 140 jobs, but will also exacerbate New Zealand's appalling $4 billion trade deficit. How many more factory closures will it take before the Government sees sense on free-trade?"


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