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Ged Kearney

China free trade agreement raises job concerns

Unions have voiced concerns that the terms of the free trade agreement reached with China may pose a threat to local workers’ jobs and conditions.

ACTU President Ged Kearney said that the Abbott government was being “deliberately vague” about the detail and likely impacts of the agreement.

The deal which will allow Chinese firms to bring in workers for infrastructure projects of $150 million or more through new labour agreements called Investment Facilitation Arrangements (IFAs).

The government says that the IFAs will have rules similar to those for 457 visas and won’t involve any weakening of current requirements to give priority to local workers. But unions remain to be convinced.

“The Abbott Government claims Australian jobs will be protected because the current rules on labour market testing — that genuine skills shortages must exist and jobs have to be advertised locally before foreign workers can come in — will apply to the Chinese deal," Ged Kearney said.

"Apart from the fact that these current labour market testing rules are woefully inadequate, the Government's own information on the trade deal doesn't even make this guarantee clear."

"There are more questions than answers, she said, “and the Government needs to come clean and explain what this deal means for Australian workers."

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