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Govt must 'fess up to sending Kiwi businesses over

Govt must 'fess up to sending Kiwi businesses overseas


It's an inevitable consequence of the Government's treacherous economic policies that a Trade and Enterprise official would tell Levin clothing company Swazi Apparel it should move its manufacturing overseas, the Greens say.

"Some lowly Trade and Enterprise official shouldn't cop the blame for telling the truth about the Government's free-trade agenda," Green Co-Leader Rod Donald said. "All the official has done is say in plain English what the Government says in economic jargon.

"No matter what Economic Development Minister Jim Anderton says, the Labour-led Government's agenda is to sacrifice New Zealand's manufacturing sector, and particularly our clothing factories, in order to pursue free-trade agreements.

"The Government can't have it both ways. It can't claim to be the workers' friend by lifting the minimum wage and OSH standards, and then tell the same workers' bosses to move their jobs overseas.

"Kiwi manufacturers can't survive against unfair competition from goods produced by foreign workers paid less than the cost of living and made to work in sub-standard labour conditions."

"The Government shouldn't be obfuscating on this point. Its official advice on this matter is very clear: the Government's national interest analysis on the Thai trade deal and its papers on the proposed China free-trade deal both admit there will be job losses in industries vulnerable to sweatshop imports."

"Trade Minister Jim Sutton said as much in Parliament when he claimed that economic progress means 'lower-paid, less productive jobs give way to higher-skilled, better paying jobs'. That statement is an insult to all the highly-skilled workers at Swazi and every other clothing factory in New Zealand," said Mr Donald.

Green Local Business and Buy Local Spokesperson Mike Ward said all New Zealanders needed to recognise that New Zealand-based manufacturers frequently faced real hardship by staying in New Zealand in spite of producing top quality products.

"Their patriotism is deserving of support," Mr Ward said.

The Greens are calling on the Government to give up on free-trade deals and instead promote a 'Buy New Zealand-made' campaign.

"The 'Buy Local' campaign should start with government departments. Trade and Enterprise should spare a thought for any Kiwis aspiring to a career in the clothing industry and develop strategies to keep enterprising New Zealanders operating successfully here. This should begin with an advisory to all Government departments seeking clothing that they should look to be supplied by Swazi and other New Zealand manufacturers," said Mr Ward.

ENDS

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