|Issue No 87||10 March 2001|
Sweat Stains the Great Aussie Cossie
An Australian icon, the Speedo swimsuit, will be made by sweatshop labour in the wake of the company's new foreign owners' decision to close its Windsor factory.
The Textile. Clothing and Footwear Union last night claimed that Speedo was now giving out its work to contractors, with the work ending up in sweatshops and outworkers' homes after sacking 65 staff two weeks ago.
TCFUA state secretary Barry Tubner says the outworkers employed by Speedo contractors are receiving up to $150 below the weekly award rate, with no leave or superannuation entitlements or workers compensation.
Tubner says like Nike internationally, Speedo has a public commitment to social justice, but is refusing to monitor the work of contractors. While the contractors are now facing legal action for award breaches, Speedo is maintaining its ignorance of the conditions.
"The retailers and fashion houses such as Speedo need to be made legally accountable for the wages and conditions of the people who at the end of the day make their garments," Tubner says
"Speedo must themselves take responsibility for the wages and conditions of workers making the gear," he says. "The only way it can effectively ensure to the public that their gear is not being made by exploited labour us to bring the work back to the Speedo factory and have it made by Speedo employees."
Tubner says it's no coincidence that Speedo delayed its decision to outsource the work until after the euphoria of the Sydney 2000 Olympics had died down.
Della Pledges FairWear Bill This Session
The plight of the Speedo workers has again raised concerned that governments are not doing enough to ensure that Australian clothing is free from exploited labour.
NSW Industrial Relations Minister John Della Bosca was this week forced to recommit to a 1998 pre-election promise from the Carr Government to introduce legislation to protect
Della Bosca, Special Minister for State, addressed outworkers and Fair Wear protesters outside the NSW Parliament rallying against the inaction of the Carr government on the issue.
Protesters were annoyed that a blueprint for implementing the promise, Behind the Label, was released in December 1999, but there had been no action since.
"Approximately 100 000 outworkers and their families in NSWare still waiting for relief from exploitation of 12-14 hour days at a pay rate of $2 - $3 per hour without workers compensation or Superannuation entitlements" said Fair Wear NSW Campaign Worker Julia Murray.
"The State Government needs to address the issue by legislation to ensure the chain of production is transparent from the retailer all the way through to the outworker. Only then will it be possible to end the exploitation".
Fair Wear NSW believes clothing retailers are abdicating their responsibility by claiming they are not involved in exploitation of outworkers because they do not hand the work directly to them.
Interview: Working Woman
Cheryl Kernot on women in the workplace, Labor's male culture and where Meg went wrong.
Activists: Honouring Our Heroes
Anna Stewart changed the lives of Australian working families by helping women achieve balance between the competing demands of work and family.
Women: The Future is Female
Julia Gillard outlines the campaign to increase female representation within the Australian Labor Party.
Unions: Sweatshops ï¿½ Beyond 2001
FairWear convenor Debbie Carstens looks over a unique partnership between churches and unions to end exploitation in the textile industry.
Politics: The Battle for Bennelong
Many trade unionists are working to kick John Howard out of office. But only one woman has a chance of kicking him out of his own seat. Meet Nicole Campbell.
International: Border Skirmishes
Alana Kerr travelled to Thailand to observe first hand the battle to organise Burmese women workers in exile.
History: Inside the Ladies Lounge
The McDonald sisters run Trades Hall, and have for over half a century. The building canï¿½t speak about what has gone on in that time, but Lorna and Elaine probably know it all.
Satire: Taliban to Put One Nation Last
The Parliamentary fate of Pauline Hansonï¿½s One Nation party was further obscured today as key fellow right-wing extremists moved to distance themselves from the controversial Queensland politician and the group she founded and leads.
Review: Seven Steps to Slavation
Jenny Macklin details the seven barriers that stand between women and a better working life.
View entire latest issue
© 1999-2000 Labor Council of NSW
LaborNET is a resource for the labour movement provided by the Labor Council of NSWURL: http://workers.labor.net.au/87/news1_sweat.html
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005