As recently reported in The Sunday Mail (Queensland) Textile Clothing and Footwear Union state secretary Jack Morel said some outworkers in the state were being paid as little as $3 an hour to make designer fashion garments, working long hours in home garage sweatshops. If they complained about the price, the clothing retailers would just tell them they could find someone else to do the work for that price or less.
“The school uniform industry is very bad,” he said. “A lot of State Government school uniforms are made in sweat shops.”
A Queensland mandatory code of practice for clothing outworkers, which came into force on January 1, means retailers can no longer exploit home workers by underpaying them or forcing them to work long hours or on weekends.
Outworkers will be classified as employees, with entitlements to holiday and sick pay and superannuation. Workers will be given agreements specifying minimum hours for full-time and part-time work. Outworkers will receive a form specifying the rate of pay per minute, how long it should take to make a garment and what they will be paid.
Morel said an outworker should be paid at least $18 an hour, plus superannuation.
He said he had seen school uniforms being made in “shocking conditions” in hot double garages, where outworkers on six machines spent up to 70 hours a week making clothing.