Outworker Laws Attacked Because They Work


The national union which represents workers in the textile, clothing and footwear industry today hit back at the campaign by industry body, the Textile and Fashion Industries of Australia (TFIA) to diminish legal protections for workers in the textile, clothing and footwear (TCF) industry.


According to the Textile Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia (TCFUA) recent comments made by the TFIA are both misinformed and out of touch given the extent of exploitation within the TCF industry.  Ms Michele O’Neil, the Union’s National and Victorian secretary, said today:


“I am deeply concerned by the position of the TFIA, which should be providing clear leadership in the transition to an ethical and sustainable TCF industry, rather than being on the ‘wrong side of history’ in seeking to dismantle minimum legal protections. The Fair Work laws, including the modern award, provide a critical safety net of terms and conditions for workers in the industry.”


The regulation of clothing supply chains have been in existence for over 20 years in both state and federal awards and legislation.


Ms O’Neil continued: “These minimum protections are not new. They have long been accepted by courts, industrial tribunals and Federal and State governments of all political persuasions. Outworkers in the TCF industry are particularly vulnerable to exploitation. Abuse of workers can, and does occur through all levels of TCF production including in factories,  sweatshops and in homes. Every day we find workers in unsafe conditions receiving hourly rates as low as $4 to $5 per hour.”


However, the union is not surprised that there is resistance from small pockets of the TCF industry to the current legal protections for workers.  


Ms O’Neil said: “These protections are finally beginning to work, with increasing numbers of outworkers receiving the minimum legal award wages and conditions they are entitled to. For many years, some companies have gotten away with shamelessly exploiting workers in the production of their products. Cutting wages and conditions doesn’t lead to improved productivity or more jobs. It just leads to unscrupulous companies making greater profits. It is time for the whole of the industry to get on board and do the right thing”.



For further information and comment please contact: Michele O’Neil  0419 338 853