Government must withdraw from TPP trade talks

Australian Unions are calling for the federal government to stop negotiations on the secret Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal.

A public forum at NSW Parliament House today will discuss details from leaked documents confirming proposals that could result in higher medicine prices and special rights for foreign companies to sue government over changes in laws or policies, including health, environment and workplace laws.

Australian Unions support trade deals with outcomes that are balanced, support jobs, protect the rights of working people and promote a healthy environment – this TPP does not do that.

Unions in all countries negotiating the TPP are calling for negotiations to be shut down unless there are genuine, transparent, public mandates that put people front and centre – not big corporations.

Key concerns with the TPP include:

  • TPP leaks have revealed some countries are trying to reject protections of workers’ rights and the TPP deal does not cover United Nations International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions on fundamental rights at work.
  • Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions will allow corporations to sue the Australian Government for making laws or policies that are good for Australian people but may lower their company profits.
  • Examples of ISDS provisions being used to undermine government policy include tobacco company Phillip Morris suing the Australian Government for introducing plain cigarette packaging and multi-national corporation Veolia (that operates in Australia) suing the Egyptian Government for increasing the minimum wage.
  • Stronger patent rights for pharmaceutical companies on medicines will mean delays in availability of cheaper generic drugs and higher medicine prices. This will add hundreds of millions of dollars to the cost of Australia’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and put vital medicines out of reach in poor countries.
  • The TPP will restrict our government’s ability to make national laws for public health, safety, the environment and general welfare.

ACTU President Ged Kearney said: “The TPP makes corporate profits more important than protections for clean air, clean water, climate stability and workers’ rights.

“A fair trade deal needs to recognise and protect workers’ rights, environmental standards and access to quality public services – this is not happening with the TPP.

“TPP talks are being held in secret without unions, business, church, environmental or community groups being involved – this is great for big multinational companies but terrible for ordinary people and the role of governments.

“Unions in every country negotiating the TPP are calling for negotiations to be shut down unless there are transparent, public mandates that put community interests ahead of company profits.

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