May 20, 2013
Will working families be hurt by a TPPA agreement?
Unions in Australia and New Zealand have united to call on governments negotiating the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) to protect the rights and living conditions of working families.
The TPPA is a proposed free trade agreement for the Asia Pacific being negotiated this week in Peru. Countries that are taking part include Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Singapore, Brunei, Vietnam, Japan, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico and Chile.
FIRST Union, the Service and Food Workers Union, the NZ Dairy Workers Union, the Engineering, Printing & Manufacturing Union, the NZ Meat Workers Union, the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union and the National Union of Workers have passed a resolution through the International Union of Food with three key demands for participating governments.
The resolution demands the TPPA maintain the rights of working people to access affordable generic medicines. It also calls for the rights of governments to subsidise the costs of medicines not be jeopardized.
The resolution demands the TPPA respect freedom of association and the rights of workers to collectively bargain.
The resolution demands any TPPA not give foreign investors the rights to sue governments for millions of dollars if their investments are harmed by law or policy. Australia’s plain packaging laws would have exposed the Federal Government to such legal action if investors had these rights to sue.
Australia’s National Union of Workers assistant secretary, Paul Richardson, said unions are concerned about this proposed agreement.
“Any TPPA arrangement that erodes the right of workers to cheap medicine and to the right to collective bargaining is a bad deal for working families,” he said.
New Zealand’s First Union Secretary, Robert Reid, said a TPPA should not restrict a government’s ability to do its job.
“Governments should have the right to make laws that prioritise citizen rights ahead of investor rights,” he said.