Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Hoffa urges U.S. to drop TPP talks with Vietnam

If Vietnam were to join the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the U.S. would be turning a blind eye to what’s really going on there, according to a report by the Worker Rights Consortium.

Unsafe workplaces are tolerated in Vietnam. So are poverty wages, human trafficking, child labor and violent suppression of workers’ rights. These are unacceptable in the United States and should be globally. At the very least they are conditions that should not be encouraged.
On the eve of President Obama’s meeting with Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang in Washington to discuss the TPP, Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa today demanded that U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman hold the Southeast Asian nation accountable for its violations of human rights. Hoffa said the U.S. should cut off talks and not enter any trade deal with Vietnam until it cleans up its act:
It is imperative that Mr. Froman ensure that Vietnam is in compliance with basic labor, environmental and human rights standards before the two sides move forward with Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations. We have seen the tragedy that results due to lax enforcement of labor standards and human rights in Bangladesh – we cannot enter into a trade agreement with a country that shows the same disregard for workers safety and human rights.
Others condemn what is going on in Vietnam. Rep. George Miller sent a letter to Froman today questioning whether Vietnam is following existing labor standards given the findings detailed in the report. He said the U.S. must be a leader when it comes to enforcing labor obligations:
As the Administration moves aggressively to complete TPP negotiations this year, we would be interested in your assessment as to whether a country such as Vietnam would have the ability to comply with obligations under the labor chapter of the TPP on a future date after the agreement is signed.
We must suspend trade negotiations with Vietnam until it improves its international labor, human rights and environmental standards. Too many members of Congress and the Obama administration, however, are either uninformed or disinterested in fair trade and human rights. That’s why we are demanding action. Tell your elected officials and Froman the U.S. should be setting the standards for how to treat workers and create safe products and not sink to level of nations like Vietnam.