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Chinese wage rates part of free trade deal?

Chinese workers in New Zealand at Chinese wage rates as part of the free trade deal?

31st July, 2006

The Green Party is asking the Government to reveal whether allowing the entry of Chinese labour into New Zealand, working at Chinese wage rates, is on the table at the free trade talks that recommenced today in Beijing.

“It has been revealed by the Australian Financial Review that the Chinese Government has asked the Australian Government to allow unskilled Chinese labourers into Australian ports and construction sites as part of their free trade talks so it seems very likely that they would ask the same of New Zealand,” says Russel Norman, the Green Party Co-Leader.

“If Chinese workers were allowed to work in New Zealand ports and construction sites at Chinese wage rates it would fundamentally change the way industrial relations works in this country and push down wages and conditions across the board,” Dr. Norman, the Greens’ trade spokesperson says.

“We ask the Government to come clean and reveal whether this is on the table in Beijing, and if so what has been the response of the New Zealand trade negotiators.

“Chinese workers are prevented from forming free trade unions and to introduce workers without those trade union rights into the New Zealand labour market would be a disaster for workers’ wages and conditions here.

“We should support the right of workers in China to unionise, and we support the establishment of an international minimum wage, but we don’t support using free trade talks to produce an international race to the bottom on wages.

“Just how desperate are they to get a free trade deal? Are they willing to compromise the entire industrial relations framework of this country?” asks Dr. Norman.


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