CTU MEDIA RELEASE 23 March 2006
New Zealand Role in WTO Services Negotiations Concerning CTU
The Council of Trade Unions is expressing concern at New Zealand's role in current World Trade Organisation services negotiations, and the level of pressure being mounted within them.
New Zealand is very actively involved now in promoting 'plurilateral' services negotiations within the WTO, which is where groups of countries with similar interests are getting together to target other countries with demands, including in education. New Zealand is in 9 such groups as a "demandeur" and is a target in 6 others.
"We are particularly concerned about New Zealand chairing the export education group where there are real risks that the boundary between publicly funded education and private education will be blurred," said Ross Wilson, Council of Trade Unions President.
"The CTU is also concerned by Wellington Chambers of Commerce CEO Charles Finney's recent description of India's approach in services negotiations as 'positive' - despite the fact that India is requesting the removal of the 'wage parity condition' when workers perform work in another country under one of the services modes being negotiated."
"This suggests to us that business groups are supporting the use of cheap labour to undercut local pay and conditions," said Ross Wilson.
"In 2003 the government established ten guiding principles in respect of services negotiations, including a guarantee that any NZ offer would not limit the government's right to provide, fund or regulate public services, such as health or education," said Ross Wilson.
"The latest developments in services negotiations may seriously challenge these principles."