Australian unions today said that trade deals can't be negotiated at the expense of Australian workers and local jobs following reports that Prime Minister Tony Abbott is facing demands from China that it be allowed to bring in workers for projects funded by Chinese investors.
ACTU Secretary Dave Oliver said that unions don't support the removal of labour market testing requirements that enable temporary overseas workers to build and operate projects in Australia, at the expense of local workers.
"Australian unions don't support trade agreements that are negotiated at the expense of local workers," Mr Oliver said.
"We support trade and foreign investment that pays a dividend to Australians and our economy but we don't support an 'at any cost' approach.
"Removing labour market testing requirements and allowing the use of exploitative visa classes like the 457 is a quick fix for the trade deal and a bad outcome for workers.
"We're letting large global corporations own and run the mines, soon we won't be taxing their super profits and under this scenario, there won't be any local jobs there either.
"Mr Abbott and his Government need to be upfront about what's actually on the table and what the implications are for local workers and industries.
"With youth unemployment at its highest level in 10 years, Government plans to cut tens of thousands of jobs from the public service. This is a Government that has presided over the collapse of the local auto manufacturing industry and is happy to see local aviation jobs go offshore but what Australia needs right now is a Government with a plan for jobs."
Tony Abbott and Andrew Robb have been breathlessly declaring that more trade means more jobs but have failed to explain how.
"If Mr Abbott has really negotiated trade deals that create Australian jobs then they must front up with the figures and modelling that guarantees the outcome – so far we haven't seen anything.
"Instead what we have seen are deals and negotiations that actually put Australian jobs and industries at risk.
"The deal with Japan saw the Australian Government make concessions far greater than other nations at the expense of our own industries.
"The Government hasn't come clean on whether or not a deal has been done with Japan to purchase 'off the shelf' submarines at the expense of thousands of Australian jobs and industry.
"And now we're seeing him export Australian jobs and consider importing foreign labour.
"Every other Government in the world recognises the value of investing in local industries to support local economies and to create jobs.
"Unfortunately for Australians the Abbott Government's policies and priorities are all pursued at the expense of Australian workers.
"Tony Abbott promised one million new jobs, we didn't realise these jobs would be for foreign workers."