OUTWORKERS

Ethical Clothing Australia (formerly the Homeworkers Code of Practice)

Ethical Clothing Australia label is a joint industry-union initiative administered by an independent incorporated committee.

Many fashion labels and manufacturers do not directly employ the workers who make their garments. It is common for companies to give their work out to contractors who then often sub-contract other companies who in turn use more sub-contractors and so on and so on. At the bottom of such production chains, homeworkers can often be found working in terrible conditions for next to no pay and without the various protections that most factory workers have.

The principle behind Ethical Clothing Australia is, if manufacturers can make their production chains transparent, then exploitation can be easily identified and addressed. Ethical Clothing Australia encourages manufacturers to take an ethical approach and be responsible for staying informed of all the steps involved in the production of their garments. Instead of simply washing their hands of any responsibility for work done outside of their premises, under the Code, manufacturers are required to respond where they are provided with evidence that their suppliers are not meeting minimum legal standards.

Ethical Clothing Australia helps manufacturers ensure that their suppliers operate within the agreed standards as it provides a system to monitor, record and report what is being made, where it is being made, who is making it, and what rates and conditions the workers receive. The accreditation process traces who is paying the award rate to the workers and who is not. If the correct payment is not paid, the process allows the non-complying party to be given an opportunity to comply.

Once an application to become accredited is approved by the Code Committee, the production chains of accredited manufacturers continue to be reviewed and documented by the Code Project and Administration Officers and verified by the Textile Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia.

Manufacturers Accredited to the Code are entitled to use the Ethical Clothing Australia label on their garments produced in Australia. The Ethical Clothing Australia label is usually sewn into the garment’s seam alongside the washing instructions, but is sometimes also printed onto the actual garment. The decision whether to use the Ethical Clothing Australia label is up to the Accredited companies.

The Ethical Clothing Australia label is a user-friendly initiative that provides consumers with an identifiable mark to distinguish exploitation-free garments. When consumers see the Ethical Clothing Australia label, they can be confident that the garment was produced in Australia and everyone involved in its production received at least the minimum legal standards.

To visit the Ethical Clothing Australia website, please click here.