Australia-Thai Free Trade Agreement to Increase Exploitation

The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union says the Australia-Thailand Free Trade Agreement will lead to greater exploitation of poorly-paid workers.

Australia and Thailand yesterday signed the free trade agreement, which is expected to benefit the local economy by three-billion dollars.

But the Manufacturing Union’s National Secretary,Doug Cameron, says the deal endorses poor labour practices in Thailand and could damage conditions for Australian workers.

“We’re now being told that we have to compete with Thai workers on this so-called Free Trade Agreement. Thai workers earn between $4.60 and $5.80 a day, they are denied basic human rights, and labour rights. Some workers are prohibited from joining a union, sweatshops are rife in Bangkok and in Thailand, and forced labour and bonded labour applies in that country, and it is a very bad situation for Australian workers to have to compete with,” he said.

Meanwhile, Australian farmers have rejected claims the new agreement will destroy Thailand’s dairy industry.

Thai farmers say the deal, which could give an extra ten-million dollars a year to Australian farmers, will devastate their industry, and have called for the agreement to be renegotiated.

The president of Australian Dairy Farmers Limited,Allan Burgess, says the deal has been finalised and is designed to benefit both markets.

“I understand farmers being anxious about extra imports, it’s always something that domestic industries are concerned about, but we have a long history of being in the Thailand market. We’re about developing markets, we’re about increasing returns to our own farmers, but also to the farmers in that country. And therefore, I can’t see that being any different. This won’t be something that will hurt the Thai dairy farmers, and it has the potential to help them,” he said.

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