CFMEU women rally over ChAFTA concerns

Women members of the CFMEU will today protest at the offices of marginal seat member for Brisbane, Teresa Gambaro, against the Turnbull Government’s continuing refusal to address the job-destroying provisions of the China Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA).

These workers believe ChAFTA will be a disaster for female workers in particular and even more so for women in regional communities.

Jane Calvert, National President of the CFMEU’s Forestry Furnishing & Building Products Manufacturing Division (FFPD), pointed to Immigration Minister Peter Dutton’s recent announcement that some 1500 visas were offered to Chinese Nationals between the ages of 18 and 30 years under a program negotiated under the trade deal.

The move will eventually allow 5000 young Chinese into the country at a time when youth unemployment is close to 14 per cent.

"The China FTA has not yet been ratified by the Australian Parliament but the new Turnbull Government has steamrolled through one of its most controversial measures," Ms Calvert said.

"Youth unemployment is close to 14 per cent and there are already 1.2 million people currently in Australia from overseas with working visa rights.”

The Federal Government argues many of those 5000 will “further develop” the tourism and hospitality industries, which have a majority female workforce.

“This will mean fewer jobs for Australian young women in a sector which already faces pressure on working conditions and wages, driven by the employers’ insatiable appetite for easily-exploitable temporary visa workers.

“It’s a clear example of how this China Free Trade Agreement is bad for local workers, will undercut local rates of pay and exploit overseas workers,” Ms Calvert said.

The Federal Government has failed to address widespread community concerns over ChAFTA, yet again prioritising big business over the needs of working people.

Ms Calvert said the CFMEU, together with other unions, is fighting against the implementation of ChAFTA as it stands.

“CFMEU women will continue to campaign against ChAFTA and for greater job opportunities for local women in the male-dominated construction, forestry and mining industries, as well as standing up against the exploitation of all workers,” she said.

“Instead of making it easier for employers to bring in temporary visa workers, the government should work with industry to improve apprenticeship, training and local employment opportunities for women.”

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