The Council of Textile and Fashion Industries ofAustralia (TFIA), the peak body for the Textile Clothing and Footwear industry in Australia, has applied to vary the wording of the Textile, Clothing, Footwear and Associated Industries Award 2010. In its submission, the TFIA has called for a change to the definition of ‘work’ in the award, to reflect actual activity performed by an outworker to include preparation, manufacture, packing, processing and finishing work in volume production and excluding design, sampling and product development activity. It has called for the removal of “organisation, procurement, control, management or supervision of work,” from the current definition.
The TFIA has also called for an alteration to the Hours of Work clause in the Award, specifically the removal of the provision that if regular full time, workers must be provided with 20 hours of regular work a week. Under the TFIA’s proposed Award, part time hours would be negotiated between the principal and the worker with no input from the Union.
“The TFIA acknowledges the escalation of outsourced manufacturing since tariff reforms and that historically some Australians working from home have been and continue to be in a vulnerable position,” the TFIA’s Jo Kellock said in the submission.
“However the TFIA submits that the existing regulatory framework for the Textile Clothing and Footwear sector (TCF Regime) is overly protective of home based workers at the expense of the broader industry especially Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) that make up 86% of the sector.”
“The TFIA’s experience is that whilst there are undoubtedly some vulnerable home-based workers in the TCF sector; most participants in the TCF industry do not fit that category and should not be defined as outworkers or sweat shop owners.”
Kellock said that the very broad nature of the definitions in the Fair Work Act and Modern Award create a ‘catch all’ scenario and lock the industry into one work arrangement.
“The TFIA submits that the Fair Work Act and the new Modern Award relies on a broad brush approach in the deeming provisions vastly extending its normal reach in prescribing work arrangements and those involved.”
“The current definition of ‘work’ creates a “catch all” for the TCF industry, where all work performed in residential premises in the TCF sector, is defined as outwork.”
“This captures activity in sampling and design process, including work done by university students, graduates and those starting a business from home.”
Kellock said that the TFIA believes the ‘outworker definitions’ are too broad.
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