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Tariff Cuts Shameful, Says Union

Tariff Cuts Shameful, Says Union

Today's decision of the Labour Government to resume unilateral tariff reductions was described as shameful and ideologically driven by Maxine Gay, Secretary of the Clothing Workers Union.

"There is no good reason for these reductions," she said. "No-one benefits. The Government loses revenue, workers lose their jobs, manufacturers lose their businesses. All for what? Mythical benefits for agriculture?

"NZ has been down this path before," Maxine Gay said. "Throughout the late 80's and the 90's New Zealand reduced tariffs and sacrificed manufacturing in the forlorn hope that the world would follow suit. Well the world didn't and New Zealand became a laughing stock, standing naked before the altar of Free Trade. And now, here we go again!"

Maxine Gay also questioned the mandate the Government had for such action. "The last time I looked the Labour Party's policy was no more unilateral tariff cuts - even Jim Sutton has said 'we are not going to reduce our tariff barriers unilaterally, just because some ideology says we should' (NZ Herald 22.11.2001). So what's changed?

"Today's announcement is telling manufacturers that the Government has no long-term commitment to them; that their interests will be traded off when politically opportune; that the skills of New Zealand manufacturing workers aren’t valued and that their industry is not worth nurturing. It is a betrayal of everything a Labour Party is meant to stand for.

"It will destroy much of the confidence that industry strategies were gradually rebuilding and places 18,000 jobs at risk," she said.

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