The CFMEU today hit back at claims by Capricornia MP Michelle Landry that the CFMEU were lying about the potential impact of the China Free Trade Agreement.
“Given that Queensland’s unemployment rate is the highest in the country and that the youth unemployment rate is as high as 20 per cent in some regional areas you would think that Ms Landry would do her homework,” CFMEU national secretary Michael O’Connor said.
“Thousands of jobs are disappearing in her electorate in the mining sector, with workers and their families left without work.
“You would think she’d pay more attention to the real story of the FTA and the jobs her government has destroyed in signing this deal.”
A statement issued by the CFMEU said as confirmed by the Department of Trade officials through Senate Estimates processes, the special feature of the China Free Trade Agreement is a little known Memorandum of Understanding which will allow Chinese companies to bring in their own workforce if they invest $150 million or more in a project in Australia under the so-called International Facilitation Agreements.
“Let’s be very clear – these are not big projects and there is absolutely no requirement for the company to look for local workers first as she claims. In fact, even their rate of pay is up for negotiation, with proposals to count food and accommodation expenses and super as part of their base rate,” Mr O’Connor said.
“To top it all off, Abbott has given away in the body of the agreement our right to apply Labour Market Testing – (the test that means 457 visa workers can only be employed where local workers are not available) to all Chinese citizens in the standard 457 program forever. Once signed this deal will stop us from ever being able to bring back LMT regardless of how many Australian workers are in the unemployment queue.
“Instead of spreading false accusations about the CFMEU Michelle Landry should be questioning her own leader about how he sold out Australian workers for his big business mates.
“The CFMEU is not against free trade but we are against badly negotiated deals which lock out Australian workers and their families from local jobs. A free trade deal where profits go overseas and local workers can’t get on projects is not a good deal.”