The ACTU will today tell the Parliamentary Joint Standing Committee on Treaties that the China Australia Free Trade Deal is not in the interests of Australian workers.
ACTU Assistant Secretary Scott Connolly will outline how the Abbott Government has made unnecessary concessions that will see Australian workers miss out on the job opportunities the deal is meant to deliver.
The facts are:
- This deal removes labour market testing: this means that jobs don’t need to be offered to local workers first.
- The deal allows – via investment facilitation agreements - Chinese companies with projects worth $150 million or more, or those with a 15% stake – around $20million - to negotiate ‘concessions’ to bring in lower-skilled workers, with lower-level English language than would otherwise be allowed under the standard 457 visa program – and avoid labour market testing and pay workers lower wages.
- A side letter removes the requirement for mandatory skills assessments for a range of trades including automotive electricians, mechanics and carpenters – and commits Australia and China to work towards eliminating the remaining occupations subject to mandatory skills assessment within five years.
Any trade deal must put the interests of local workers first.
We have no objection to overseas workers from any country being employed in Australia provided there is genuine, verifiable evidence through labour market testing that the employer has not been able to find a suitable, qualified Australian to do the job.
This deal doesn’t do that and it provides no incentives for employers to invest in training and apprenticeships.
The Abbott Government talks about jobs but this deal doesn’t deliver them for local unemployed people. And they haven’t been upfront about what they’ve traded away.
They have relied upon name-calling and gutter politics to attack those that have questioned the deal without explaining what it means for Australian workers.
Australian Unions are not anti-trade. We recognise the value of lower tariffs, increased exports and freer access to markets for Australian businesses and we hope that Australia can be at the heart of global economic growth.
But this agreement is fundamentally different to other trade agreements we have entered into in the way it treats working Australians.
Unions stand by their record of representing and advocating for the interests of all workers – whether they be Australian citizens, permanent residents, or temporary migrant workers.
Please attribute the following to ACTU Assistant Secretary Scott Connolly:
"The China Australia Free Trade Deal is a dud deal."
"With unemployment sitting unacceptably high at 6.3 per cent, in double digits for some regions and more than 800,000 people out of work for the first time in twenty years, why would our Government sign a trade deal that does not give job opportunities to local workers first?”
“Any trade deal must put the interests of local workers first and we want this deal renegotiated.”