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April 28, 2008 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Fair Trade not Free Trade, a Question of Justice?

When we think of fair trade we tend to think of coffee and chocolate and paying a fair price to the producer groups– little attention is generally given to the concept of environmental justice.

We all know about climate change but the issues of justice are often overlooked. Climate change will have a huge impact on the world’s poorest people who, ironically are the least responsible and yet are often criticised for the way they use their resources.

We, the west and the rich, need to look at the conventional production of products that feed our growing consumption habit before we throw stones.

The conventional production of all the ‘stuff’ we purchase has a huge impact on the environment and the rights of those who are producing the goods for us yet these issues are largely ignored, especially by the major political parties. As we saw recently with the Free Trade Agreement signed with China, our Government dismally lacks integrity around labour and environmental justice issues and largely ignores human rights.

China’s factory owners spend little on health and safety or good environmental practises. Their labour situation is appalling and wages are kept low by the absence of genuine trade unions, China also utilises forced prison labour, child labour and the general lack of political rights in society makes life difficult for Chinese workers. Our Government is selling out – if they really cared about Chinese workers and the environment they would have signed a Fair Trade Agreement, not a Free Trade Agreement.

Greens@Vic wants to highlight fair trade as a just and environmentally sustainable alternative to conventional trade. Fair trade allows production of items that have a minimal impact on the environment while creating terms of trade that ensure that these processes remain sustainable for future generations. The cost of helping fair trade producers with environmental sustainability is included in the fair price paid. When you have to feed the habit – buy fair trade! Check out:

Help the Greens@Vic support Fair Trade Fortnight by coming to our gig! Join Jamaican dub legend – reggae artiste and ‘edutainer’ Yasus Afari, local legends The Aviators, The Washoiyas and guest speaker Green Party Co-leader Russel Norman for a night of celebrating fair trade and good music – all for a good cause. Mighty Mighty, 7 May, 8pm. $10 on the door.


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