Rag trade exploits outworkers


Rag trade exploits outworkers

By Bridget Riggs

MELBOURNE — Fairwear, a community action group campaigning for outworkers' rights, and the Textile, Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia (TCFUA) have taken companies such as Adidas, Portmans, Australian Defence Apparel and Motto to the Federal Court over not complying with the industry award.

These companies have refused to sign a code of conduct which requires outworkers to be treated fairly. Outworkers — mainly women recently arrived in Australia — work at home and are paid wages as low as $2 per shirt, which are then sold for more than $40.

There are 100,000 outworkers in Victoria and at least 300,000 in Australia. In the past 18 months, the TCFUA has prosecuted 68 companies for approximately 300 breaches of the award. Once companies have been prosecuted the TCFUA and Fairwear will campaign for them to sign the code.

From July 1, award clauses protecting outworkers will be stripped under the provisions of the federal Workplace Relations Act. Protection of outworkers is not one of the 20 allowable matters in the act.

The TCFUA and Fairwear are asking consumers to refuse to buy products made by companies which refuse to sign the code of conduct.

If you like our work, become a supporter

Green Left is a vital social-change project and aims to make all content available online, without paywalls. With no corporate sponsors or advertising, we rely on support and donations from readers like you.

For just $5 per month get the Green Left digital edition in your inbox each week. For $10 per month get the above and the print edition delivered to your door. You can also add a donation to your support by choosing the solidarity option of $20 per month.

Freecall now on 1800 634 206 or follow the support link below to make a secure supporter payment or donation online.