Some fashions are hard to change


SYDNEY — On May 7, activists from Fair Wear, an organisation dedicated to stopping the exploitation of home-based outworkers, held their own exhibition, "The clothes she wears" at Circular Quay, opposite the Museum of Contemporary Art.

"Fashions change from year to year — but the conditions are still the same for the estimated 300,000 outworkers sewing from home to supply Australia's fashion industry", a Fair Wear press statement explained. An outworkers average hourly wage is still below $5, which is a third of their legal entitlements.

The statement described Fair Wear's exhibition as, "a silent tribute to the hundreds of thousands of women who go unseen and unheard working in this industry. These are the clothes they wear ... These are the faded and worn clothes of outworkers, some of whom have not had a new set of clothes for ten years. The irony is significant for an industry which prides itself on image."

Fair Wear is campaigning to get designers and clothing manufacturers to sign the Homeworkers Code of Practice, which ensures some basic conditions for clothing workers.

From Green Left Weekly, May 14, 2003.

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