Tariff Cuts Put Jobs at Risk
Jobs will be lost and the Government’s economic development strategy will be damaged by planned tariff cuts, Council of Trade Unions economist Peter Conway said today.
The Government has confirmed it will begin a gradual reduction in tariff rates when it lifts a freeze in 2005. The highest tariffs of up to 19 percent on clothing, footwear and textiles will be gradually cut to 10 percent by July 2009.
The CTU has worked closely with the National Distribution Union and the Clothing, Laundry and Allied Workers’ Union on a campaign to protect jobs. The campaign included sending thousands of postcards to the Government, calling for the tariff freeze to continue.
“Previous tariff cuts have resulted in the loss of thousands of jobs in the textile, clothing and footwear sector,” Peter Conway said. “Our concern about today’s announcement is the effect on the 18,000 workers in this sector.
“We also question whether anyone will benefit from today’s decision.”
The CTU acknowledged, however, that the Government had rejected advice to remove tariffs entirely, and had aligned New Zealand closely with Australian intentions on tariffs – a move that went some way to addressing union concerns, Peter Conway said.
“It is now essential that the Government revitalise the industry development strategy to ensure the survival of the textile, clothing and footwear sector.”