TCFUA Campaign for Outworkers’ Rights

Background to outwork in Australia

Home-based work has always been a feature of the clothing industry. But today, home-based outwork accounts for the majority of Australian clothing manufacturing. Since import tariffs were reduced beginning in 1992, Australian manufacturers have been cutting their labour costs to compete with cheap imported clothing from low-wage countries. As a result, there has been a substantial increase in sub-contracting to sweatshop factories and home-based outworkers. While the closure or down-sizing of many large companies creates the impression that much  clothing production is moving off-shore, a sizeable industry slips under the radar here in Australia, hidden and largely unregulated, in small sweatshop factories and private homes.