Wednesday, 16 April 2008
The bilateral Free Trade Agreement with China, as well as being generally quarantined from New Zealand Regulation, has a "national treatment" penalty provision. "Each party shall accord to investments and activities associated with such investments, with respect to management, conduct, operation, maintenance, use, enjoyment or disposal, by the investors of the other party treatment no less favourable than that accorded, in like circumstances, to the investments and associated activities by its own investors." This could set the scene for compensation to be paid to Chinese investors for any restrictions are put on their investment, with the proviso that unless these restrictions "may be reasonably justified in the protection of the public welfare, including public health, safety and the environment". As this slim escape clause does not mention employment law, it is probable that the indentured Chinese work teams that NZ employers want to bring here, will be working at grossly inferior rates and conditions to New Zealand locals. It works the other way, like for example Air New Zealand employing Chinese stewards. New Zealand employers will be able to pay much less for these contracts, relying on the brutal enforcement of low wages by their Chinese contractor. The bulk of the money will go to the contractor and not the workers. As the bosses like to say: “a win win situation”.