IndustriALL Global Union affiliate the Australian Workers’ Union (AWU) announced at its National Conference that it will take legal action against Chinese steel dumping.
Newly elected national secretary Daniel Walton said that the union would lodge a complaint with the government’s Anti-Dumping Commission. The Commission has the power to impose tariffs to address dumping.
"Chinese dumping has put our manufacturing sector on the brink of collapse," he said. “There can be no place for trade cheats.”
Walton explained that vast sums of money are being spent by the Australian government on infrastructure projects that use no Australian steel. At the same time, more than 8,000 workers at the Arrium steel plant in South Australia face an uncertain future as it went into administration last year.
The AWU is holding its National Conference on the Gold Coast in Queensland this week. Following a panel discussion on Chinese dumping, where experts debated the effects of dumping on the domestic market and strategies to fight it, delegates passed an anti-dumping resolution, accusing China of flooding the international market with 100 million tonnes of steel sold at prices below the cost of production.
The resolution calls on the Commission to impose a significant tariff on Chinese steel. “Dumping is cheating”, it says.
The steel industry is in crisis across the world, and IndustriALL affiliates are taking action to defend the industry and the jobs it provides. In November last year, thousands of steel workers marched through Brussels to demand action on dumping.
An action plan was adopted at IndustriALL’s base metals conference in Duisburg, Germany, committing affiliates to coordinate initiatives to oppose market economy status for China, on the grounds of unfair trade practices. In 2004, Australia became one of only two major developed economies to grant market economy status to China (after New Zealand), severely hampering its policy options for addressing Chinese dumping.
IndustriALL will participate in the next OECD Steel Committee on 23-24 March and together with affiliates will fight there, as well as in the G20 forum on steel overcapacity, for measures to be taken against dumping.
IndustriALL assistant general secretary Jenny Holdcroft, who was at the AWU National Conference, said:
“This is neither free nor fair trade when a country subsidisies its own industries at the expense of workers, their jobs, families and communities, in other countries. The AWU has taken an important step by demanding that its own government stands up to dumping. We will support them, and coordinate with our affiliates in the steel industry across the world to develop an united trade union response.”