Unions rally against China-Australia FTA

Over 2,000 union workers held a rally against the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in Brisbane yesterday.

The ABC reports that the protestors gathered outside the Commonwealth Law Courts Building where a public hearing into the deal was being held by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties.

The workers claim the FTA would allow Chinese workers to be used on major construction projects and would therefore threaten local jobs.

Electrical Trade Union national secretary Allen Hicks claimed the deal would remove the mandatory skills assessment to obtain a temporary skilled work visa in Australia and would jeopardise workplace safety.

"We want to protect our safety, we want to protect jobs for Australians," Hicks said.

As Sky News reports, the Labor Party resolved at its national conference to consider possible amendments to the FTA to make sure such fears are not realised.

However as AAP reports, former Labor leader Simon Crean urged the Opposition to support the deal, claiming it will only benefit employment prospects and the economy as a whole.

According to Trade Minister Andrew Robb (pictured), any attempt to amend the deal could cost Australia as much as $300 million next year alone.