No freedom for Australian workers. See the facts here
The Abbott government’s hysterical call of racism against opponents is in response to unions’ campaign, backed so far, by ALP leaders.
See CFMEU ad here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CiSV1GmXvo4
Update from Crikey: CFMEU and union campaign biting
From CFMEU: Plans to undertake a taxpayer funded advertising campaign on the China Australia Free Trade Agreement highlight the failure of the Abbott Government to sell its own policies to the Australian people.
The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union said no amount of advertising spin would change the unpopular anti-worker provisions in the Agreement.
“The crisis-ridden Abbott Government has failed to sell its own policies. It will now waste more taxpayers’ money on an expensive advertising campaign to try and tell the Australian public that black is white,” CFMEU National Secretary Michael O’Connor said
“If the China Free Trade Agreement was good for Australian workers, the Abbott Government would have had no problem in getting that message across.
“They’ve already wasted $80 million of taxpayers’ money on a now-proven partisan Royal Commission.
“Having failed to convince Australian workers that the China Free Trade Agreement is good for them, they want to spend even more on spin.
“An ad campaign would almost certainly be a waste of public money – our polling shows that voters in key marginal seats hate the China Free Agreement.
“No amount of advertising will change the anti-worker provisions in the Agreement – they need to remove them if they want to win the public back over.”
Under the China Free Trade Agreement, Chinese companies will be able to bring in their own workers on projects worth as little as $150 million (down from $2 billion), a move that will lock qualified Australian workers out of many construction and mining projects.
The Agreement will also allow Chinese companies to bring in semi-skilled workers for the first time – a completely unjustifiable change when there are now more than 800,000 Australians unemployed – the first time it has reached this number since 1994.
“This Free Trade Agreement is unprecedented and with unemployment at highest levels since 2002, it is completely unjustified.”
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“Workers from China can come under temporary work visas just about in any category and will not be subject to labour market testing… Projects worth $150 million or more can actually bring in labour from China with lower level English, with lower skills and they can, in fact, be used to implement those projects… If you can bring an entire workforce in to build that building from another country then you immediately lock out Australian workers.” – Ged Kearney, President of the ACTU, in an interview with Fran Kelly on ABC RN Breakfast, Thursday June 18, 2015.
Australian unions have long warned that Australian workers could be disadvantaged by the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA), which was signed and made publicly available last week.
After reading the sections of the agreement relating to labour mobility and labour market testing, Ged Kearney from the Australian Council of Trade Unions said her fears have not been allayed. She said the deal could “immediately lock out Australian workers” from certain jobs.
Is that right?
No need to show local skills shortage
Checking Ms Kearney’s statements against the text of the agreement, she is correct that Australian workers can be excluded from labour market opportunities through ChAFTA.
When asked for a source to substantiate Ms Kearney’s claim that the ChAFTA will lock out Australian workers, an ACTU spokesperson pointed to Article 10.4, paragraph three of the agreement, which states that:
‘In respect of the specific commitments on temporary entry in this Chapter, unless otherwise specified in Annex 10-A, neither Party shall… require labour market testing, economic needs testing or other procedures of similar effect as a condition for temporary entry.
As part of the agreement, China and Australia have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the topic of an “Investment Facilitation Arrangement” (IFA).
The IFA allows a project company registered in Australia but with 50% Chinese ownership to bring in Chinese workers for a proposed infrastructure development project. The development must be projected to involve capital expenditure of A$150 million over its term.
There is no requirement under the MOU for labour market testing.
This means the project company will not need to prove that they are unable to source Australians to work on the project.
There is no requirement to prove that there is a skill shortage or that the project company has had recruitment difficulties in enticing Australian workers. (This is different to the 457 visa programme, where employers are supposed to show they have tried and failed to find Australian workers for jobs, before hiring skilled foreign workers.)
Just about any category? Lower skills and levels of English?
Ms Kearney’s statement that “workers from China can come under temporary work visas just about in any category and will not be subject to labour market testing” is not technically correct, although the breadth of industries permitted under the ChAFTA is extensive.
The MOU allows Chinese workers to be brought into Australia to work on the project, so long as the project is related to infrastructure development within the food and agribusiness; resources and energy; transport; telecommunications; power supply and generation; environment; or tourism sectors.
Ms Kearney’s most alarming allegation is that Chinese workers with lower skills and lower level English will be permitted to work in Australia as part of an IFA.
I assume by this that she is comparing the immigration possibilities opened up by the ChAFTA to Australia’s official pathway for labour immigration, the 457 visa.
AMWU: Our fight is not with foreign workers, it is with the Abbott Government and their business mates who benefit from this deal at the expense of workers.
This trade agreement that has been negotiated behind closed doors will allow:
Chinese companies to bring in an entire workforce from overseas for projects worth over $150 million with as little as a 15% stake in that project and without even advertising for local workers first.
It could cost as many as 158,000 local jobs because of cheap Chinese imports that are unfairly subsidised and do not meet Australian standards. Half of Australian businesses surveyed say the deal will hurt them and only 11% say it will help.
The agreement will allow Chinese companies to sue Australian governments that pass laws which affect their profits. This is how Phillip Morris has been able to sue us for plain cigarette packaging laws that are saving lives.
This trade deal has no commitments to respect workers’ rights.
We need to stop the China FTA from stripping down our hard fought for rights, safety, standards and conditions.
Andrew Dettmar AMWU http://www.amwu.org.au/stop_the_china_fta_rally_melbourne
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