RCEP Raw Deal for Australian Workers

  • 1 July 2019

A proposed new Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade deal will expand the power of global corporations and locks in a race to the bottom on wages and conditions for working people, Australia's peak union body has warned.  The RCEP has been negotiated in secret between the Australian government and 15 countries in the Asia-Pacific region, including China and India.

The ACTU has expressed its concerns that the RCEP would weaken labour market testing obligations, meaning employers would not have to advertise jobs locally first before taking on a temporary overseas worker.

Sections of the agreement may weaken protections for Australian jobs and expose a greater number of temporary visa holders to exploitation.

The RCEP is also likely to include an investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism which gives foreign corporations the right to bypass our courts and sue our governments for making laws they don’t like.

ACTU President Michele O’Neil has called for the Australian government only to support an agreement with enforceable workers’ rights in line with International Labour Organisation standards.

The priority should be on maximizing jobs and training opportunities for working people in Australia.