Union leaders from Australia and the United States today called for any Free Trade Agreement between the two countries to include guarantees on employment and environment standards.

A joint statement issued after talks in Washington between the ACTU and the American Federation of Labour and Congress of Industrial Organisations (AFL-CIO), said unions from both countries would combine to oppose any bilateral trade deal that failed to include the guarantees.

ACTU President Sharan Burrow and AFL-CIO President John Sweeney said any deal resulting from government negotiations in the US this week must not disadvantage working families in either country.

“We are committed to taking joint action to ensure any trade pact includes guaranteed standards on jobs, employment rights and local content, and enshrines the principles of sustainable development and equitable social policies,” Ms Burrow said in Washington after the talks.

“We are determined to ensure that both governments work in the interests of the majority of people in our two nations. Governments everywhere must acknowledge and act to meet the growing concerns of communities about globalisation so that the benefits of trade are shared by all.”

The joint statement from the AFL-CIO and ACTU calls for any US-Australia bilateral trade and investment agreement to incorporate a commitment to:

  • Core labour standards identified in the International Labour Organisation’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work;
  • Domestic laws and international treaty obligations on labour and environment standards;
  • Transparency and accountability through public consultation on trade treaty negotiations and disputes;
  • Guaranteeing the ability of governments to provide public services and enforce legitimate regulations in the public.