Solidarity with unions and activists opposing the TPPA signing

As trade ministers from 12 Asia-Pacific nations gather to sign off on the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) on the 4th of February in Auckland (New Zealand), thousands of concerned citizens will voice their opposition to this undemocratic corporate trade and investment deal.

In New Zealand, BWI’s affiliate FIRST Union has been at the forefront of the campaign to stop the TPPA, working with the umbrella organisation It’s Our Future a series of protest actions around the signing ceremony.

“We have already seen the detrimental impact that similar agreements have had on democratic policymaking in areas like labour and occupational health and safety laws, public health measures, and environmental and financial regulations”, said BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson.

“This agreement is designed to lock in failed economic policies of the twentieth century, shifting power towards multinational corporations and away from working people”, said Yuson.

FIRST Union General Secretary Robert Reid notes that the union and its predecessors have been involved in struggles against undemocratic free trade and investment agreements since the late 1980s.

“We have been organising to stop the TPPA since it first appeared on our radar, because we’ve seen what these agreements do to working people: creating unemployment, increasing inequality and making work more insecure” said Reid.

There has been a huge outpouring of solidarity from unions, global union federations and other organisations around the world in support of the opposition to the TPPA.

A joint statement from the Asia Pacific Regional Offices of four global union federations (the Building and Woodworkers’ International, Industriall Global Union, the International Transport Workers’ Federation, and the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations) commended the organising work of FIRST Union and outlined reasons for opposing the agreement. The statement continued, “[w]e wish to add our voices to that call, and to join your struggle to stop the TPPA.”

Another statement from the Latin American Council of Global Union Federations saw the struggle to stop the TPPA and its sister agreements TTIP and TISA in the context of the defeat of the Free Trade Area of the Americas, appealing to the unions of the Americas that united in that struggle to position themselves against these agreements. It concluded that, “[t]he unions of the Americas are united in the fight.”

BWI's partner trade union organisations from Australia – ETU and CFMEU – have also both signed on to a statement from the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network expressing their grave concern over the agreement, and calling for an independent assessment of the economic costs and benefits and independent health, environment, human rights and labour rights assessments.