Rally targets China ‘free trade’ agreement

Issue 
Photo: Maurice McGahey

More than 800 workers gathered in Bicentennial Park on August 23 to protest against the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement in a rally organised by the Electrical Trades Union (ETU).

ETU National Secretary Allen Hicks told the crowd Chinese companies need invest only 15% in a project worth at least $150 million to be able to bring in workers from overseas who are not subject to labour market testing.

For as little as $22.5 million, a Chinese investor in a joint venture with an Australian company can avoid paying Australian wages and conditions.

Hicks said: “We're not opposed to foreign workers coming here, we're opposed to their exploitation.”

ETU organiser Paul Kirby spoke briefly to request help with fundraising, letterbox drops, phone calls and petitions. He also announced another rally to be held on August 27 outside Liberal MP Natasha Griggs’ office.

Former Labor MP for Solomon Damien Hale asked people to remember the Work Choices laws where “people were marginalised and bastardised”. He said: “We are back to those days where workers are being attacked.”
The rally wrapped up with the crowd chanting “Liberal governments can’t be trusted!”