The National Conference of the Australian Labor Party has listened to unions’ warnings about the potential impacts of free trade agreements on Australian jobs.
Delegates to the conference, held in Melbourne in late July, backed union demands for changes to the China-Australia trade agreement struck by the Abbott Government, calling on the Labor Party to pursue all parliamentary processes to "remove the significant faults" in the deal.
An alliance of seven of Australia’s largest unions, including the CEPU, has been calling for stronger protections for Australian jobs in both the China-Australia agreement and the still-to-be- finalised Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement.
Unions are particularly concerned about clauses in such agreements which allow foreign workforces to be brought into Australia on favourable terms.
The resolution passed by Conference calls on the ALP to block the China-Australia agreement unless these issues are addressed and, if unsuccessful, to renegotiate the agreement when it wins government.
Shadow trade minister Penny Wong said on Friday that Trade Minister Andrew Robb had failed to negotiate a high quality agreement and the deal required greater safeguards to protect Australian jobs, including improved capacity for labour market testing and skills testing.
She said if Labor was not successful from the opposition benches in changing the agreement, she would pursue changes with China - if the ALP was returned to government at the next election.