17 Oct 2005

Australian Council of Trade Unions supports principle of free movement of labour

2:09 pm on 17 October 2005

The president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions says the ACTU supports the principle of free movement of labour within the Pacific.

Sharon Burrow says it would be advantageous for workers from Pacific Island countries to be able to freely work in Australia and New Zealand, and it should be considered a priority when leaders meet to discuss the Pacific plan.

Reservations have been expressed by Australia and New Zealand on the issue of labour mobility which is to be presented as a key element of the draft Pacific plan later this month.

Ms Burrow says opening up the labour markets will not result in job losses for Australia or New Zealand.

"We're not talking about massive numbers of peoples in the Pacific. And, in fact there's a myth around that increasing your population actually takes jobs away from those living in any country in the world. The contrary's actually the case. If Australia hadn't increased its population, it wouldn't have the economy it has today."

Ms Burrow says the ACTU is, however, opposed to temporary work permits because it would deprive people of some rights.