The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) has slammed the Government and Labor for greenlighting the “disgraceful” Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement (KAFTA) which could “further undermine Australian jobs” and allow imports made in North Korean prison camps.
The free trade agreement with Korea, which is Australia’s third-largest export market and its fourth-largest trading partner, was signed on 8 April 2014 in Seoul by Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb and his Korean counterpart Minister for Trade, Industry and Energy Yoon Sang-jick during an Australian trade delegation visit to Korea.
While the agreement was met with approval from much of the Australian business community, AMWU is on the opinion that it goes against core Australian values.
“The disgraceful deals will greenlight companies to bring in foreign labour without any local labour market testing. We are already seeing jobs stress and a 12 year unemployment high. To make it easier for companies to bring workers rather than have to hire local first is a slap in the face,” said AMWU National Secretary Paul Bastian in a media release.
“KAFTA also leaves the door open to imports from parts of North Korea that are not subject to labour standards and which are notorious for forced and prison labour.”
Mr Bastian said the agreement includes an Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) clause that allows private companies to sue the Government and override Australian laws if a policy decision impacts its business.
“The Productivity Commission has recommended against this clause, Labor rejected it hen in government and even John Howard rejected it. It goes way beyond the phrase ‘corporations are people too’ and elevates corporations above our legal system and our democracy,” Mr Bastian said.
“This is an appalling agreement that strips away local jobs and Australia’s sovereign rights. We are deeply disturbed that both sides of politics are supporting this dangerous agreement.”
Mr Bastian also criticised the Labor Party for supporting the deal which directly violates Labor Party Policy.
“How can the ALP support and agreement that potentially gives preferential access to products produced by forced labour and gives away our democratic rights to foreign corporations? To do so at the expense of Australian jobs and industry is a disgrace,” said Mr Bastian.