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Issue #1642      June 11, 2014

Uncovering the faceless women of fashion

The Textile Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia (TCFUA) has begun Federal Circuit Court proceedings against companies who own many leading fashion labels, over alleged breaches of laws preventing the exploitation of outworkers (see attached list).

Twenty-three clothing companies will join the ranks of over 170 others previously taken to court by the TCFUA for failing to abide by minimum legal standards in the clothing industry. The TCFUA will allege that the group of 23 breached important outwork and related provisions of the Awards (either the former Clothing Trades Award 1999 and/or the Textile, Clothing, Footwear and Associated Industries Award 2010).

Michele O’Neil, TCFUA national secretary said: “TCF outworkers, almost uniformly migrant women, labour at home at the end of long and complex supply chains. Outworkers are particularly vulnerable to exploitation given the hidden nature of their work and their isolation. Despite their high level of skill, most are forced to work long hours for very low wages, some for as little as $5-6 an hour.”

The TCF Award provisions impose obligations on the whole supply chain to make transparent where work is being done, by whom and under what conditions.

Ms O’Neil said: “Without supply chain transparency, it is impossible to identify sweatshops and where outworkers are, how much workers are being paid and whether other labour standards are being complied with. The award breaches alleged by the union go directly to this issue. To put it simply, the award outwork provisions are critical to ensuring that sweatshop workers and outworkers, receive their minimum legal wages and entitlements.”

Ms O’Neil called on the fashion industry to reject a race to the bottom based on the exploitation of outworkers and the use of sweatshops. “There are companies doing the right thing and who have embraced ethical manufacturing in Australia. That’s the future for the industry – beautiful clothes made ethically in Australia. Our union will not let companies who persist in breaching minimum award obligations get away with it.”

Labels: Anna Thomas; Very Very; Kamikaze; Cubec; Drizabone; Motto; WarwickJones; Fella Hamilton; Kea Sports; Digby’s; Verducci; Mr Fleecy; Mariana Hardwick; Arthur Galan; Mesop; My Size; Nevenka; Nicholas; Ripe Maternity; Sosume; Styleknit; Uniforms by Design; Viktoria & Woods

Next article – Budget impact sinking in

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