The Maritime Union has hit out at free trade deals after revelations that China was imposing sanctions at will on New Zealand dairy products.
Maritime Union General Secretary Joe Fleetwood says that “free trade” has been promoted by Government and big business as the grand solution to all New Zealand’s problems.
But he says that if the details of free trade deals and their negotiations were known to the people of New Zealand and elsewhere, then they would be thrown out overnight.
Mr Fleetwood says there is a dark side to free trade deals which needed to be put under the spotlight.
“In so many issues today, we see free trade agreements harming or threatening the interests of working people. It is about more than commerce, it is about controlling our destiny. Under free trade deals, New Zealand people are no longer in charge of our own country.”
He says the loss of jobs at Hillside rail workshop, attacks on New Zealand’s ability to provide medicine through Pharmac, and the debate over file sharing laws, were all different aspects of how free trade deals were threatening New Zealand’s future.
“What we are seeing here is powerful nations and massive corporates setting the rules, and we are playing their game to their benefit.”
He says free trade agreements were a part of the deregulation and free market policies that were behind the global recession and economic instability.
“New Zealand needs to keep its ability to make decisions for our own benefit, and manage our trade to ensure a balanced economy that is not just dependent on one or two commodities.”