The Council of Trade Unions is withdrawing its co-operation with the government on trade agreement issues.
Helen Kelly, CTU President, said: “We have always raised our concerns – sometimes very strongly – about trade agreement negotiations in terms of tariff reductions, labour standards and other matters but we have also been prepared to work with government and business to promote the best possible outcome for New Zealand.”
“But now this Government has gone down a path which tries to compete with other countries through reducing fairness at work for New Zealand wage and salary earners.”
The Government had invited Richard Trumka, the President of the AFL-CIO (central union organisation in USA) to New Zealand and a visit was scheduled for early next year. This visit would have been significant for both countries. The CTU has agreed with the AFL-CIO that he should now not come given the attacks this Government has unleashed on wage and salary earners. It would be untenable for him to be here meeting a Government that stands against all he believes in.
Not surprisingly Trade Minister Tim Groser is unimpressed:
It is disappointing that the Council of Trade Unions has requested the United States union movement pulls its support for the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement, Trade Minister Tim Groser says.
“Negotiating new trade agreements is one part of the Government’s broad-based plan for faster growth and more jobs. The CTU’s moves against this particular trade opportunity are puzzling and could actually cost jobs,” Mr Groser says.
“It’s particularly disappointing that the CTU is prepared to put petty politics ahead of New Zealand’s economic and trade interests.
“New Zealand and New Zealanders stand to benefit substantially from further successful trade deals – particularly with large and influential economies such as the United States. These deals will help us create higher-paying jobs and enjoy better living standards.
“I’m therefore sure the CTU’s members will be keen to know why their organisation is, in effect, working against their own interests in such a way.”
We are a tiny nation which depends on trade to fund and supply the many things we can’t grow and make ourselves.
We are at considerable disadvantage because of other countries’ restrictive trade practices.
They make our goods more expensive for overseas consumers and reduce returns to our producers which has a detrimental impact on our economy which in turn hampers opportunities for job creation and retention.
This government, and the previous one, put considerable effort into trade deals. The CTU’s petty politicking has just made that more difficult.