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Michael Savage would be spinning in his grave

17 November, 2004

Michael Joseph Savage would be spinning in his grave

Green Party Co-leader Rod Donald is calling on the Prime Minister to observe her own party's founding principles before she signs up to free trade agreements with China and Thailand at this weekend's APEC meeting in Chile.

"Labour's founders would be horrified that a Labour-led Government values the sale of more milk and butter above the jobs of New Zealand workers and the rights of Chinese and Thai workers to earn a living wage," said Mr Donald.

"Under these 'preferential deals', New Zealanders will lose their jobs and businesses precisely because generations of Labour and union leaders worked so hard to win a minimum wage, enforceable safety standards and fair employment practises for our workers.

"Unless the Government retains a level of protection for New Zealand manufacturers then those same hard-won employment conditions will mean they are unable to compete with foreign manufacturers who are free to exploit their workforce and the environment.

"The real winners from these free trade deals won't be the kiwi shopper who pays slightly less for a shirt or the farmer who sells a bit more milk. The real winners will be the multinational corporations and Asian entrepreneurs who make their money off the backs of children, political prisoners and sweatshop labour."

Mr Donald said the testimony of overseas aid agencies and of sweatshop workers themselves debunked the claim of free trade apologists that such agreements would help lift third world workers out of poverty.

"More trade simply means more exploited workers," said Rod Donald. "Nike is a corporation, not a charity.

"In fact, this flurry of bilateral trade deals that the Labour Government is so set on signing is actually undermining the chances of establishing multilateral trade rules that would respect international labour standards, human rights and the local environment.

"And by turning a blind eye to abuses in China and Thailand in order to get a trade deal, what signal is Labour sending to other corrupt and brutal regimes like Burma?

"Until Helen Clark and her officials can persuade these countries to ratify and respect core international labour standards such as the abolition of forced and child labour and the right to organise, she should put her pen away."

ENDS

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