If you believe that the exploitation of garment workers only takes place in developing countries—think again. In Australia homeworkers are mostly women who make clothes in their houses commonly situated in the outer suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne. They often work up to 18 hours a day, 7 days a week. Homeworkers make clothes for our major retailers, designers and even suppliers of school uniforms. They are some of the lowest paid and most exploited Australian workers, receiving as little as $3 an hour. They frequently work under poor conditions with little access to their rights.
With sub-standard conditions a norm for many Australian garment workers, how can we know which brands are doing the right thing? Thanks to the action of consumers, activists and community groups over the past decade, the Ethical Clothing Australia (ECA) label has been established (it used to be called the No Sweatshop label) and it means the garment was manufactured in Australia and the manufacturer has committed to ensuring that all of the people involved in its production, including outworkers, received, as a minimum, the legally stated wage rates and conditions (known in Australia as the industry Award wages and conditions).
Have a favourite Australian made brand that doesn’t carry the ECA label?
You can do your bit to encourage your favourite Australian brands to gain ECA accreditation. Either contact the brand directly to ask if they have considered ECA accreditation or leave an ECA call card at one of their retail outlets. If you are interested in obtaining some ECA call cards to deliver, just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Find out more about Ethical Clothing Australia
Visit FairWear and support an end to the exploitation of Australian garment workers
(Image: Ethical Clothing Australia)