Labor’s caucus will shortly decide whether to support the federal government’s proposed free trade agreements (FTA) with Indonesia, Hong Kong and Peru. Sources have indicated that Labor is unlikely to oppose the legislation. Meanwhile, the ACTU is lobbying Labor MPs to oppose the bill, due to concerns about issues such as allowing thousands of Indonesians working rights. From The AFR:
Labor will hold a special caucus meeting at 8.30am Thursday to come to a position after shadow trade minister Madeleine King recommended to a committee of caucus on Wednesday that the party support the legislation… Senior party sources said Labor would not stand in the way of the trade deals that were negotiated by the Coalition…
The ACTU, which fears the deals could allow the importation of foreign labour and for foreign companies to sue the Australian government, is actively lobbying MPs, both individually and in groups, to vote against the bills…
The unions also want mandatory labour market testing before foreign workers can be imported.
The ACTU’s Sally McManus is livid at Labor, posting the following on Facebook:
The ACTU claims that Labor has reneged on a deal made with the unions to protect Australian workers in FTAs:
Back in December 2018 the AMIEU and other Unions made a deal with the Labor Party that the conditions of Australian workers would be protected in all future trade agreements.
Labor was so embarrassed when we threatened to picket a Bill Shorten fundraising event they agreed to introduce better and fairer trade agreement legislation.
We expect Labor to honour the deal struck with the Union movement, but already they are showing signs of flopping. Labor Parliamentarians MUST OPPOSE the Liberal Government’s new free trade agreements with Indonesia, Hong Kong and Peru.
These new trade agreements will increase the number of temporary visa workers in Australia, of which there are already 1.4 million. Visa workers are taken advantage of by multinational corporations and used to erode the wages and conditions of everyone.
Not only have these free trade agreements not been independently assessed, they do not require labour market testing and even allow multinationals to sue the Australian government if they aren’t making enough money.
The AMIEU has written to Federal Labor, Greens and Independent Parliamentarians to oppose the proposed free trade agreements. We urge these Parliamentarians to closely examine the new trade agreements to see just how they will disadvantage Australian workers.
Federal Labor Parliamentarians, if you aren’t going to fight for the workers you claim to represent, you aren’t fit for your job.
The ACTU is right. The “Labor” Party no longer supports the working class, but rather inner-city social justice warriors and virtue signallers. They care more about identity politics than real issues that impact the working class.
That said, the ACTU is not adequately representing its working-class base either. While it whinges about FTAs, it remains a wholehearted supporter of Australia’s mass immigration ‘Big Australia’ policy, even signing a ‘Big Australia’ immigration compact with employer groups last year.
This comes despite mass immigration being a key driver of inequality, since it raises the wealth of capitalists while driving down the wages of ordinary workers, and forces workers to live in smaller and more expensive housing.
Rather than focussing on tiny FTAs, unions need to push for root-and-branch immigration reform.
This should start with dramatically lowering the overall permanent migrant intake, as well as setting a wage floor for ‘skilled’ migrants at the 80th to 90th percentile of earnings, thus ensuring the scheme is used sparingly by employers on only the highest skilled migrants, not as a general labour market tool for accessing cheap foreign labour and eliminating the need for training.
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