||Issue No. 231||30 July 2004|
Interview: Power and the Passion
Unions: Tackling the Heavy Hitters
Industrial: Seeing the Forest For The Wood
Housing: Home Truths
International: Boycott Busters
Economics: Ideology and Free Trade
History: Long Shadow of a Forgotten Man
Review: Chewing the Fat
Poetry: Dear John
The Locker Room
Tom On Alienation
Two Million Jobs Traded
Canadian Auto Workers Union president, Buzz Hargrove, said no argument could be made for the Free Trade Agreement to Australian workers because it exists to increase the power of corporations.
"Canada lost its status as number one auto assembler in the world on a per capita basis and since 1989 when we signed the FTA we have moved right down to eighth position," Mr Hargrove said.
"People have to understand what the FTA means. It means that corporations have the right to invest where they want and that governments lose their power to govern in the interest of their own people.
"We lost those two million jobs to the US and Mexico and the agreement killed any ability for our government to make a better deal for Canadian workers."
Mr Hargrove said Australians need to be aware of the impact any FTA would have. He said he was "surprised" that there was not more outrage from the community particularly over health and culture.
"The Canadian Government was ready to include those two areas into the FTA but there was a huge outcry from the Canadian population about it," he revealed.
He urged the Australian Labor Party to take a strong stand against the agreement.
Mr Hargrove suggest that ALP leader Mark Latham could take comfort from the fact that over 60% of Canadians voted against the Free Trade Agreement in the last election.
"I'm sure that if Australians really knew what John Howard was giving away, the vast majority would also be completely opposed," he said.
Latham Highlights Social Costs
Speaking at the AMWU national conference, last week, Latham, lifted the bar on ALP acceptance of the agreement.
He presented a critical assessment of AUSFTA, arguing any economic gains would be offset by social policy deficiencies.
Latham stressed the federal party would be guided by a senate committee report that already had unearthed "social costs", including pressure on the pharmaceutical benefits scheme; and threats to intellectual property rights, Australian culture and manufacturing jobs.
He described the decision to leave sugar out of the deal as "un-Australian".
Latham said the federal government's own support for the FTA was based on presumed benefits to Australia of $53 million a year but that "overwhelmingly" this came from increased US investment, rather than improved Australia's export receipts.
He called that benefit "mild" and suggested it could be outweighed by "social policy concerns".
AMWU national secretary, Doug Cameron, left the Opposition Leader in no doubt about what his members expected on the FTA.
"If it becomes a reality, never will an Australian Government have given up so much, on behalf of so many, for so little," Cameron responded.
"Mate, the AMWU has fought many battles alongside the ALP, and we will continue to stand up and fight those battles arm in arm with you. But there are battles we will fight on our own for our members and for their families.
"We urge you to consider the long term interest of Australian industry and Australian workers and do what the community expects which is to stand up for their interests."
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