CTU has informed EU of free trade agreement labour law breach

The CTU has sent a letter to the European Commissioner of Trade to bring his attention to New Zealand’s disregard of its obligations under the Trade and Sustainable Development chapter of the NZ-EU FTA by the Government’s repeal of Fair Pay Agreements (FPAs). The European Trade Union Confederation are also writing to the Commissioner.

Under the FTA, ‘a party shall not weaken or reduce the levels of protection afforded in labour law in order to encourage trade or investment’. But in the draft cabinet paper prepared for FPA repeal, a rationale given for repeal was that it is ‘crucial to business growth and investment’.

“We wrote to Minister van Velden in December 2023 before FPAs were repealed, to warn her of the risks to the NZ-EU FTA. We were deeply concerned that the Minister brushed aside our concerns, illustrating the Government’s intention to disregard the provisions of the agreement,” said Acting CTU President, Rachel Mackintosh.

“New Zealand has historically staked its international reputation on being a good faith partner in trade agreements and has been a vocal supporter of the rules-based international order. The Government’s recent employment law reforms run counter to these commitments.

“The CTU does not want to see New Zealand be party to an Agreement if we have actively undermined core provisions of it before it’s even ratified. This will negatively impact New Zealand’s international reputation and our ability to pursue and agree other free trade agreements in the future.

“Fair Pay Agreements would have supported thousands of some of the lowest paid workers in New Zealand by lifting their wages and setting core industry standards,” said Mackintosh.

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