The high cost of free trade
GLOBAL PEACE & JUSTICE AUCKLAND
5 April 2008
The high cost of free
Highlighting the high cost of New Zealand’s Free Trade Agreement with China will be the focus of a protest today organised by Global Peace and Justice Auckland and Unite Union.
The FTA is due to be signed by Helen Clark in Beijing on Monday.
The high costs include:
· Up to 20,000 more jobs lost in New Zealand (mostly in manufacturing) as tariffs are further phased out and removed. These jobs will be replaced largely by minimum wage jobs in retailing – such as stacking the shelves of the warehouse. (Already the lifting of tariffs has cost 50,000 jobs in New Zealand to Chinese imports alone)
· Turning a blind eye to Chinese workers struggling for the right to organise independent trade unions to improve pay and conditions. Chinese workers work in slave-like conditions where 16 hour days at less than $1 an hour are typical.
· Forced labour and child labour form part of the backbone of the Chinese economy. As many as 5 million children in China work in factories for less that $1 per hour. Likewise the forced labour of as many as seven million Chinese prisoners.
· Ignoring even the most basic international rules such as the conventions of the International Labour organisation which China has refuses to ratify.
· A slap in the face to Tibetans struggling against China’s 49 year occupation of Tibet and the exploitation of its natural resources by Chinese companies and international corporations
The protest will gather in Aotea Square, Auckland at 12 noon today to deliver the message –
“Free Tibet – not free trade”
“Save jobs in New Zealand – Support workers rights in China”