ACTU criticises Turnbull government over labour mobility in the TPP

March 1, 2018: The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) has published new analysis about labour mobility under the Comprehensive Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which is summarised in a Sydney Morning Herald article. They say Australia has done less than other partner countries to protect local jobs in the CPTPP.

Australia has made commitments in the CPTPP to remove labour market testing for contractual service providers, a category which includes hundreds of skilled trades occupations. Australian employers may hire temporary workers from six new countries (Mexico, Japan, Chile, Canada, Vietnam and Malaysia), without first testing if local workers are available.

The Turnbull government claims it has received ‘reciprocal’ offers from the governments of these six countries. But these countries have only made offers to remove labour market testing for occupation categories like senior executives, inter-corporate transferees, and specialist highly qualified professionals. Dr Patricia Ranald of AFTINET told the SMH, ‘reciprocal does not mean equal offers.’

"Contractual service providers have less rights than permanent migrants because they are sponsored by an employer. This means they are tied to that employer and highly vulnerable, because they can be deported if they lose the job. Governments should always retain their ability to regulate labour market policies, which need constant adjustment to ensure workers are not exploited. This can only be ensured by not including temporary labour arrangements in trade agreements," Dr Ranald said.