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P.M. Has “Lost It” Says Maxine Gay

16 November 2000

Trade Union Federation President and Clothing Union Secretary Maxine Gay has denounced the Brunei APEC statement of P.M. Helen Clark to cut all tariffs on goods from the world’s poorest countries.

“The proposal is outrageous and an affront to the workers in New Zealand who supported the election of a Labour Government,” she said. “Not even the National Party was prepared to advocate such an extremist free market policy while in Government. The Prime Minister has simply lost the plot.

“This proposal makes a farce of the Government’s economic and regional development policies and also its “closing the gaps” policy,” Maxine Gay said. “It will completely destroy what is left of clothing and footwear industries in this country. There are currently 10,000 workers employed in these industries and those few that are left will find their wages and conditions under even greater pressure.

It is mainly women, often Maori and Pacific, in the clothing and footwear industries who will bear the brunt of this policy,” said Maxine Gay. “Many of these workers are in regions of high unemployment.”

“We are pleased to see the Greens already opposing the proposal,” said Maxine Gay. “And we cannot see how the Alliance can support such a policy. It must immediately stand up and be counted on this issue. This is not a matter requiring “loyal and token” opposition of the Alliance, but goes to the heart of the basis of coalition between the Alliance and Labour. Likewise Labour backbenchers must also stand up, remember who they represent and oppose this extremist free trade policy.”

“The Trade Union Federation is appalled that Helen Clark is attempting to hide her free trade extremism behind concern for the world’s poorest countries. Where has Helen Clark’s consultation been with third world development groups on this matter?

And where is the consultation with New Zealand workers, trade unions and manufacturers,” said Maxine Gay.

“It is indeed incongruous that Helen Clark has now become a “groupie” of Mike Moore, the man she overthrew as leader of the Labour Party because of his ill thought out policies and erratic behaviour. Perhaps when Helen Clark returns home and engages in some sober reflection, she will change her mind on this issue,” Maxine Gay concluded

Ends

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