Tuesday, April 15, 2014

We Should Examine Free Trade Agreements

We have seen a lot of knee jerk triumphalism about the signing of free trade agreements recently with Korea and Japan. But what does it really mean for Australia, especially Australian workers? In the case of the Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement (KAFTA), possibly more local unemployment.

On the one hand Australia has agreed not to apply Labour Market Testing under the Korea FTA. But Korea has reserved the right to request employers for evidence that they have conducted labor market testing. In particular, the provision states: ‘Labour market testing may be required as a condition for temporary entry of, or numerical restriction may be imposed relating to, temporary entry for professionals’.

Free trade has turned into a euphemism for accommodating the agendas of transnational corporations, in this case of the Korea FTA, an increased use of 457 Temporary Migrant Workers.

Already, Gina Rinehart’s Roy Hill is using up to 200 white-collar 457visa workers, half of which are Korean nationals, and many of whom are women, clocking up 84 hours a week. Many are not working in the occupations approved for their visas – a breach of the sponsoring employer’s obligations, and this despite Roy Hill claiming it was so inundated with job applications from locals that it did not need to use 457 visas. The ‘free movement of labour’ on the free trade agenda of corporations is nothing more than a vehicle to race to the bottom on local wages and conditions.

The secrecy under which these agreements are being negotiated and then signed undermines democracy and comes at the expense of local health, labour and environmental laws.

At a time when over 713,000 Australians are unemployed and we have a crisis in youth unemployment the Liberal Government should be looking for and supporting local solutions, not exacerbating this problem by opening the door to even larger migrant worker programs.

1 comment:

  1. Australia's sovereignty is under serious threat from inside, from our own "democratic" elected government. We are being treated as a nondescript or international territory, with no borders or inherent/legitimate population, with rights to jobs and standards of living. Chinese property developers are ready poised to grab land and rights to build towers and housing in Melbourne, and displace residents from homes. What's the point of high trade between nations if it's not in our interests to have foreign workers, not tested locally? It's a Pyrrhic victory to have trade increased, but the Australian people swallowed and overwhelmed by the greed of foreigners.