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Union criticizes China FTA at conference

Maritime Union of New Zealand criticizes China free trade agreement at international maritime union conference in Sydney

Maritime Union of New Zealand media release FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Tuesday 8 April 2008

The Maritime Union of New Zealand says the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China will be closely watched by workers.

Maritime Union General Secretary Trevor Hanson says any attempts by employers to use international labour to attack wages and conditions will meet with a strong reaction.

Mr Hanson is currently in Sydney for the Maritime Union of Australia quadrennial conference and will address the conference this week on issues including union concerns on the free trade agreement.

He says free trade agreements tend to be an ongoing process rather than a one-off, and maritime and transport unions around the world viewed free trade agreements as mechanisms to attack working people.

"We don't believe this free trade agreement with China is just going to mean New Zealand selling more dairy products. There will be a major pay off and we believe the implications for workers conditions, human rights and national sovereignty have been disregarded in the shallow analysis and lack of debate we have seen in New Zealand."

Mr Hanson says the use of cross-border, short-term casual labour was a reality throughout many parts of the world as part of free trade agreements.

He says maritime workers are very sensitive on the use of international labour because of flag of convenience shipping replacing New Zealand shipping, and past problems in the fishing industry.

Mr Hanson says Chinese corporations have an interest in controlling resources and supplying their own logistics and labour, and have been open about this.

"The fact that both the Government and the National opposition have congealed on this issue concerns us because a large number of New Zealanders concerns on free trade issues are not being represented properly and there has not been a proper national discussion of the issues."


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