Give details on FTAS, unions tell govt

National Union of Transport Equipment and Allied Industries Workers’s general secretary Gopal Kishnam N (fourth from left) handing over a memorandum to a representative of the international trade and industry ministry.

KUALA LUMPUR: A union representing thousands of workers, IndustriALL Global Union, has expressed concern over ongoing trade and investment agreement negotiations the country is involved in.

It says the government should be more transparent in providing details of these trade agreements.

Gopal Kishnam N, general secretary of the National Union of Transport Equipment and Allied Industries Workers, one of the unions under this group, said so far the government has not given details of these negotiations, not even to elected political representatives.

“In this sense, trade unions should be consulted prior to each round of negotiations,” he told reporters after submitting a memorandum with other trade unions on free trade agreements (FTAs) to a representative of the international trade and industry ministry today.

Among the FTAs currently being negotiated are the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), Malaysia-Iran Preferential Trade Agreement (Mipta) and Malaysia-European Free Trade Area Economic Partnership Agreement (Meepa).

FTAs which have been signed but are pending ratification are the Asean-Hong Kong Free Trade Agreement (AHKFTA), Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) and Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Kishnam said the trade negotiations have to be for the benefit of the workers and society as a whole.

“We are concerned that the new generation of FTAs, which aim for deeper liberalisation and deregulation of the economy, represents a corporate trade agenda which negatively affect workers’ rights and the sustainable development of the country.

“Instead of pursuing a multitude of FTAs, we call upon the government to strengthen multilateralism in the context of a democratic global trade policy for sustainable development.

“We are dismayed to note that most of the FTAs engaged by the government do not include provisions related to enforceable core labour standards recognised by the International Organization.”