- WHO WE ARE
- TRAINING & EDUCATION
- UNION MOVEMENT
- HEALTH & SAFETY
- FIND ETHICAL AUSTRALIAN PRODUCTS
The TCFUA is taking action to support Cambodian garment workers and their unions who were fired upon while taking industrial action two weeks ago resulting in 5 people being killed. Their campaign is to raise the Minimum wage for garment workers in Cambodia who are amongst the lowest paid in the world.
Please click on the below links and support the Campaign
On April 22, 2013 1,129 people lost their lives when the Rana Plaza building collapsed in Bangladesh. The most devastating thing about this disaster was that it was completely preventable.
Since then many companies, who have their garments made in Bangladesh, have signed the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Accord, a legally binding historic agreement now covering more than 2 million garment workers to ensure proper safety and regulation.
Some companies have refused to sign the Accord and continue to profit from workers misery and hide behind sham commitments. Bucking the trend for Australian retailers, the Just Group, whose brands include Just Jeans, Jay Jays, Jacqui E, Dotti, Peter Alexander and Portmans have not signed onto the Accord. Instead they have joined with Walmart, a world leader in violating its workers’ rights, in signing a cynical, non-legally binding cop out called the “Alliance for Bangladesh worker Safety”
Jyrki Raina, General Secretary of global union IndustriALL said:
"The Walmart-led Alliance is widely accepted to be a cop-out, a cynical attempt to deflect pressure to take real responsibility and sign the legally-binding Accord. The Just Group has made a serious error in joining the Alliance, allowing its reputation to be tarred with the same brush as Walmart a leader in violating its workers. The door will never be closed to clothing brands and retailers wanting to join the Accord for Fire and
Building Safety in Bangladesh. The Just Group's contribution and participation will be welcomed in the Accord."
"The two fundamental flaws of the Alliance are the total absence of workers in the initiative, and the total lack of legally binding enforcement of its commitments. Without these two vital aspects, which are both central to the Accord for Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh signed with IndustriALL and UNI global unions, the Alliance is nothing more than a toothless, voluntary corporate initiative. Voluntary, corporate-led social audit programmes were part of the systemic problems that made Tazreen and Rana Plaza possible. The Accord covers 2 million garment workers in Bangladesh and 75 percent of all garment exports from the company. Our full effort and focus will remain on implementing the Accord which can bring an historic breakthrough in making the garment sector in Bangladesh safe and sustainable. We want the "Made in Bangladesh" label a label of pride."
On Saturday 14th December 2013 unions, community groups and members of the public held a protest in front of the Just Jeans store in Bourke Street, Melbourne urging the Just Group to do the right thing and sign onto the Accord
Help support garment works in Bangladesh, show the Just Group that we won’t stop until they sign the real Accord.
Be part of the campaign to get Just Group to sign the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Accord.
Sign the petition www.act.australianunions.org.au/just_jeans
For for further in formation visit http://www.facebook.com/EthicalWork
By Michele O'Neil, TCFUA Secretary
The death toll from the Rana Plaza tragedy is now 1127. Over 1000 were very seriously injured with many losing limbs. The recovery effort stopped with many workers still unaccounted for. International outrage continues with the campaign to force more companies to sign the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh. In Australia, Target, Kmart, Forever New, Speciality Fashion, Woolworths, Big W, Pacific Brands and Cotton On have signed but Coles, GAP and The Just Group have not signed. Global union IndustriALL continues to pressure the Bangladesh Government to strengthen its health and safety laws and give unions stronger entry rights.
The article below was written by Michele O’Neil, TCFUA National Secretary, in the immediate aftermath of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh
Just last week I was in Singapore at a meeting of unionists organising textile, clothing and footwear workers around the world. Safety in Bangladesh was high on our agenda and raised in nearly every issue and plan we discussed. The Bangladesh union leaders there spoke of workers’ fear, of the union not being able to enter workplaces, of long hours, pay too low to live on, of the horror of fires and not just the grief of death, but the life-long injuries and pain of those who survived. They described searching through the burnt remains of Bangladesh's Tazeen factory in November last year (where 112 workers died) for labels to prove which companies had been manufacturing there as all were denying responsibility.
Two days after that meeting in Singapore, the Rana Plaza building collapsed in Bangladesh.
More than 380 workers are confirmed dead, the rescue effort has now stopped with 900 others missing -- presumed dead. Over 1000 are seriously injured. Many were making garments, some destined for export to Western countries.
Do not be fooled by global brands' promises of investigation, statements of sorrow and concern and website statements of corporate social responsibility.
This is not an isolated incident. Bangladesh is the most dangerous place on earth to work behind a sewing machine. Over the last decade more than 600 garment workers have lost their lives there, making fashion for the Western world.
Another level to this tragedy has been the revelation that only the day before, local police ordered the building be evacuated as large cracks had opened up in columns on the upper floors. Bosses stood outside the plant the next morning assuring workers everything was OK and herding them inside. Facing a penalty of three days' docked pay for every day missed, most of the 3000 workers must have felt they had no choice but to file into the teetering death trap.
In the days since the collapse, angry workers have taken to the streets of the city of Dhaka, stopped work, and blockaded freeways and the Garment Makers Association. The Bangladesh government responded with rubber bullets and tear gas.
This industry is worth $20 billion to Bangladesh annually. The owner of the building who sent workers back into the building before it collapsed is a minor politician in the ruling party. He had approval to build only five of his building's eight storeys. There are 51 factory inspectors in a country with 5000 clothing factories, and many thousands of other factories.
Companies are attempting to distance themselves from responsibility by no longer directly employing manufacturing workers or owning their own factories. They then seek absolution by saying "it's not our factory", "I'm not the employer", "it was an unauthorised subcontractor" or "how were we to know?"
Shame -- it's your label, it's your product, it's your profit.
Our union sometimes gets accused of forcing Australian jobs offshore because we fight for workers to receive a wage they can live on, have safety standards that protect their lives, and laws that require companies to disclose the details of their whole supply chain -- whether their clothes are being made in a factory or someone's home. Well, I'm OK with that -- it can't be a job at any price. Safe work with dignity is not too much to ask.
The results of not having strong laws and unions is clear, look no further than Rana Plaza. Isn't the real question why we accept in 2013 that for the sake of fashion or a bargain we turn a blind eye to the truth of the labour behind the label?
Companies that search the globe to find the lowest labour costs cannot claim ignorance to the consequences of that decision. The only way that Bangladesh factories can make clothes for the price they do is because they pay workers less than a living wage, compromise safety and punish union organising.
Well, consumers have power. Some of the companies, shops and brands selling Bangladesh-made clothes here in Australia are Target, Big W, G-Star, Adidas, Duchamp, Cotton On and Kmart.
Two of the brands known to manufacture in one of the five collapsed factories inside the Rana Plaza are Mango -- which David Jones recently announced a deal to stock -- and Benetton, sold throughout Australia in its own and other shops.
Bangladesh is desperate to maintain and grow its garment industry. Global brands are desperate for you to buy and wear their labels. Workers and their families are desperate.
Brand-specific codes, self-regulation and private sector audits don't work.
If you want to support demands for the Bangladesh government to act, visit Labour start. Check the websites of your favourite brands -- if they don't fully disclose their supply chain and suppliers there's a reason. Demand they release the information.
Name and shame those companies manufacturing in Bangladesh until they agree to be parties to the enforceable factory safety agreement that IndustriALL Global Union and Clean Clothes endorses. The workers will thank you.
If you want to purchase ethically Australian made clothing go to http://www.ethicalclothingaustralia.org.au/home
To view Michele O'Neil appearing on Channel 10's The Project discussing this issue go to http://theprojecttv.com.au/video.htm