Unions hit out over trade talks between Australia and China

by Ray Clancy on June 4, 2014

in Australia, Jobs in Australia

The Australian government is being urged not to make any agreements with China that would create opportunities for Chinese workers to get jobs in key occupations.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions is concerned that current trade deal talks with China could see more international workers filling job vacancies where local workers are seeking employment.

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Unions are worried a deal could create more obstacles for local job seekers

According to ACTU Secretary Dave Oliver, a deal could create more obstacles for local job seekers and he is not appeased by Prime Minister Tony Abbott`s promise that any agreement would be only for ‘specialised’ jobs.

‘The likely reality is that ‘specialist’ refers to engineers, riggers, plant operators, IT workers and many other occupations which are often outsourced. There are up to 350,000 Australian workers searching for jobs in key outsourced sectors including these very occupations,’ said Oliver.

‘You also have the extraordinary situation where the Abbott Government is looking to water down 457 visa requirements so employers don’t even have to advertise locally before they hire from an international pool of workers,’ he claimed.

‘On the one hand you have a government saying they are staunchly against any unemployment and telling people to earn or learn, and on the other they are putting hurdle after hurdle in front of job seekers, including those with specialised skills,’ he added.

The ACTU believes that trade deals are meant to be negotiated in the country’s interests but said that is hardly the case if the jobs aren’t for Australian workers.

‘We’re not in opposition to foreign workers, particularly under permanent migration. Where there is a genuine skills shortage, these workers fulfil an important role,’ Oliver pointed out.

‘However, when you have hundreds of thousands of local workers job searching in skill shortage areas you have to question why the Abbott government would shy away from creating opportunity at a local level,’ he added.

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