Marching against the TPPA

The TPPA has been hovering around some time now but now we are reaching the climax. The June deadline is coming and the TPPA will either pass or fall. Obama must get this trade agreement through before June or else the credit for helping out our capitalist overlords will fall to the next administration.

So then it is time to put the pressure on and in Auckland between 1500 and 2000 people took to the streets to do just that. There were gatherings in scores of other centres across the country, with over one thousand marching in Wellington and several hundred marching in Dunedin. A large range of groups were present ranging from political parties to unions to students. But this action was not done in isolation with protestors taking to the streets across 22 towns and cities in New Zealand. In Auckland both the Greens and Mana were present; the unions came as well with EPMU, MUNZ, Unite, First Union and the Nurses union all present; students came as well with NZMSA – the New Zealand Medical Student’s Association making themselves heard. With such a lively mix of people this loud and boisterous crowd made its way down Queen Street behind the TPPA Trojan horse.

But why are these groups united against the TPPA? How does it affect us? The TPPA will have serious implications for three areas: Healthcare, workers’ rights and intellectual property law. Starting with healthcare, US pharmaceutical companies will take no time to demand that Pharmac is scrapped should the TPPA go through. We should only expect the cost of drugs to increase to extortionate prices making important and potentially lifesaving drugs to be out of reach for many ordinary workers. This leads to workers’ rights, not only would workers find healthcare unaffordable but their demands for better pay would now be ignored and any government that tried to meet their demands would find itself in international litigation courts as large multinationals sue them for loss of profit. Finally large US corporations with Disney being a prime example want changes to intellectual property law. In the case of Disney the rights pertaining to some of their most iconic characters are about to expire and Mickey Mouse and his friends are going to enter the public domain! Companies like Disney want to change the law to prevent this and so they can continue to enjoy revenue from ideas that have lived their creator’s lives many times over.

The TPPA generally allows corporations still more control over shaping laws, more so than they do already! Our ability to demand change and fight for workers’ rights is under threat and so we must fight back. Across the Pacific people are moving and the pressure is on governments. Will they accept the TPPA with its unfavourable conditions set by US corporations to the outrage of their people or will they cave in to the peoples’ demands and not risk the political backlash? The National party and Labour seem set to back the TPPA. The movement must build if we are to force this Agreement out. We must demand to see this agreement, just as people in Europe can see the trade deal (T-TIP) aimed at them! The government may say it has to be secret but clearly the events in Europe show that is not true.


Photo Credits: Cory Anderson (Auckland)