07 April 2008
Union Concerns Taken on Board in China FTA
The Council of Trade Unions says that it appears as if union concerns have been taken on board in the NZ-China Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
Peter Conway, CTU Economist said that the phase down period for the remaining NZ tariffs was over a reasonable time period, the labour memorandum gave a channel for unions to raise labour rights issues, and there are caps and controls in the case of temporary migration under the agreement.
“It is early days however, and we would need to study this comprehensive agreement carefully to see how robust these provisions are and also check the entire text of the FTA,” he said.
“Despite a new labour contract law in China there are ongoing concerns about labour rights. It is significant that the Chinese government has agreed to a labour memorandum in the FTA, but there is still a long way to go before workers in China have decent standards and strong labour rights.”
“Unions recognise that there are benefits in this trade agreement but we have been very concerned about the risks, particularly to some parts of the manufacturing sector. It will now be vital for the economic development programme supporting value-added manufacturing to continue. “
“The CTU wants to see ongoing investment to lift skills and we have also submitted to the Inquiry into Future Monetary Policy that we need monetary policy that does not undermine the New Zealand manufacturing sector.”
“The CTU also believes that with interest from China and perhaps other countries in commitments on access to the NZ labour market, it will be important to build up industry standards and multi-employer collective agreements to ensure that we have a strong foundation to promote decent wages and conditions.”
“We also need to ensure that migrants from any country are not badly treated by New Zealand employers,” Peter Conway said.