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Free Trade Agreements rob Kiwi workers' jobs

17 April 2008

Free Trade Agreements rob Kiwi workers' jobs

Just 10 days after the signing of the Preferential Trade Agreement with China, New Zealand workers are already facing layoffs, with Fisher and Paykel announcing the closure of its Dunedin factory - at a cost of 430 jobs.

Green Party Regional Economic Development Spokesperson Sue Bradford says far from being the boom to the economy as promised, the Chinese Preferential Trade Agreement is a threat to New Zealand workers and manufacturers alike.

"Kiwi workers and their families are in the front row of the firing line due to this misguided trade deal. These layoffs are the first evidence of this deeply uneven playing field, the cold truth of competing with a low-wage economy."

Fisher and Paykel Managing Director John Bongard made it very clear that the free trade agreements with China and Thailand had made it impossible for the company to remain in New Zealand when it was competing with those low wage economies.

"It is clear that with the signing of the China preferential trade agreement New Zealand is taking a giant leap in the race to the bottom," Ms Bradford says.

"These New Zealand jobs will now go to workers in Thailand, Italy and Mexico, when the dishwasher plant closes over the next 12 to 18 months.

Fisher and Paykel is one of the biggest employers in Dunedin. These workers are - understandably - in shock, and the layoffs will have far-reaching effects on the local community and the regional economy."

The iconic New Zealand company is also shutting factories in Brisbane and California, with 640 layoffs.

ENDS

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