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CTU Union Leader Refused Access to China

Union Leader Refused Access to China

Council of Trade Unions president Ross Wilson has been refused access to China and has had his visitor’s visa cancelled by the Chinese Government.

Ross Wilson was to attend an OECD seminar in Beijing next week with representatives of 25 governments, union leaders from 20 countries and 15 foreign investors to discuss raising labour standards in China.

China cancelled the meeting and invalidated all the participants’ visas, claiming it was “inappropriate and inconvenient” timing.

The incident comes as New Zealand officials begin talks in China today for a free trade agreement between the two countries.

“The seminar was only going to talk about guidelines for foreign companies in China, so this action by the Chinese Government raises serious questions as to whether they are willing to even discuss labour standards,” Ross Wilson said.

“It appears that the position of the Chinese Government is that there should be no constraints or standards for any company operating in China.”

It was understood that the decision to cancel the seminar was made at the highest political level in China, he said.

The move also prevented a planned meeting between the New Zealand union leader and his Chinese counterparts.

OECD guidelines for multinational companies which were to be discussed at the seminars included working conditions, union recognition and health and safety.

Ross Wilson said the international trade union movement would continue to work for the protection of workers’ rights in China.

“More and more consumer products are sourced from China, so Chinese labour standards are a major international issue.

“It is estimated that even developing countries like Bangladesh and Indonesia will each lose up to a million manufacturing jobs to cheaper labour options in China.”

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