Dylan Loats thought it was a good turn out at the union meeting but would've like to see Flynn MP Ken O'Dowd attend. Photo Campbell Gellie / The Observer
Dylan Loats thought it was a good turn out at the union meeting but would've like to see Flynn MP Ken O'Dowd attend. Photo Campbell Gellie / The Observer Campbell Gellie

Gladstone workers turn out for ACTU meeting on Chinese deal

EIGHTY-FOUR people turned out for the Australian Council of Trade Unions meeting last night at the Gladstone RSL and Bowls Club to start the unions' campaign against the Chinese Australia Free Trade Agreement in Queensland. 

The first meeting in Queensland and one of 23 around Australia had guest speakers Rohan Webb from the Australian Manufacturers Workers' Union and John Battams and Ros McLennan from the Queensland Council of Unions. 

ACTU Gladstone ChAFTA meeting: State Secretary for the Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union talks about the Chinese Australia Free Trade Agreement at the Gladstone RSL and Bowls club on October 26.
ACTU Gladstone ChAFTA meeting: State Secretary for the Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union talks about the Chinese Australia Free Trade Agreement at the Gladstone RSL and Bowls club on October 26.

Ros McLennan welcomed the recent agreement between the Coalition Government and Labor but said it still wasn't enough. 

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"We have had a win. A Federal Government has never reneged on terms of an agreement before and we have done that with this campaign," she said. 

"But they haven't gone far enough."

She said they still had to fight for local jobs and deal with insecure work, the number of temporary work visas, increasing youth employment and allow people get receive education and training. 

Rohan Webb said the agreement still allowed Chinese companies to bring the entire workforce for a $150 million project leaving the local workers without a job. 

"The Government will say we are scare mongering but we are making sure we look after local communities," he said. 

"I have no problem with free trade agreements or 457 visas but not at the expense of local workers."

Local boilermaker Kahn Goodluck was worried about safety and wages if the agreement went ahead. 

"I will acknowledge some benefits of the agreement but I think the cons outweigh the pros," he said. 

"I have young kids and I think my chances of getting on future projects are in dire straits. 

"I work on Curtis Island and the current 457 workers are on a complete different standard of work."

Local worker Dylan Loats was already up to speed with the agreement but said the meeting encouraged him to spread the word. 

"We need to get to people and get the message out," he said. 

"Everyone is not informed about it and that's what we need to do now."