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Unions to Meet Government Over GATS Concerns

Unions to Meet Government Over GATS Concerns

A delegation of union leaders headed by the Council of Trade Unions will meet Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Michael Cullen tomorrow morning to voice concerns about New Zealand’s commitments under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS).

The meeting coincides with a global day of action against GATS.

CTU Secretary Paul Goulter said there were significant issues surrounding the Government’s position on an initial offer by New Zealand in this round of GATS negotiations.

“Unions believe that the 31 March deadline for the initial offer is far too soon and leaves little time for consultation on a complex set of issues,” said Paul Goulter.

“There is no basis for further commitments to be made on top of the extensive commitments made in 1994,” he said.

“In fact unions want the Government to withdraw from earlier commitments made in education and audio-visual services”.

Paul Goulter said protection of a wide range of public services was vital. The CTU had already met trade officials to express its concerns about requests made in specific sectors such as postal services, transport and education.

“Though the Government has stated it would make no offers to limit its right to provide, fund or regulate public services, parts of education and broadcasting are already covered by GATS, raising questions over whether some of New Zealand’s public services are already subject to GATS rules,” he said.

Paul Goulter said it was crucial that GATS commitments did not undermine the ability of current and future Governments to regulate in the national interest or diminish the importance and relevance of the Treaty of Waitangi.

Union leaders will meet Dr Cullen at 11am, Thursday 13 March

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