Students, staff, and parents from Brunswick West Primary School joined FairWear campaigners and members of the Textile, Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia in an action highlighting that school’s commitment to ethical uniforms, with a follow-up at the Thomastown outlet of BuxWear, where they awarded the company a ‘Fail’ report card for its use of sweatshop labour.
The purpose of the action was twofold: to shame those who who are not doing the right thing, but equally to show that there is a better option, and to give credit to those who are choosing to take it. As one of the students, her jumper carrying the Ethical Clothing Australia logo, said at the start “I’m glad my school decided to buy the jumpers of a company that pays their workers fairly. I think all companies should do the same thing.”
School Principal Louise Chocholis also spoke briefly: “The things that we believe” she said “we should live… The community really does believe that people should be paid properly.” Which is why it was important that school uniforms should be ethically endorsed, and indeed, all our clothes…
From a Media Release issued by FairWear:
Uniform Failure, Kids Demand Ethical Uniforms
100 Workers Kept in Sweatshop Conditions
A Melbourne uniform manufacturer has been flagrantly breaking Australian laws by not ensuring garment workers in its supply chain receive fair legal minimum wages and conditions.
BuxWear, a uniform manufacturer, also trading as Dandy Schoolwear and Norman W Buck & Co Pty Ltd is based in Dandenong. It also operates a store, BuxWear Direct, at 218 Settlement Rd, Thomastown.
Recent investigations have revealed that this manufacturer is in breach of minimum legal conditions for outworkers making garments. FairWear Campaign & Education Officer, Mr Riley, said, “BuxWear was prosecuted in 2005 for breaching the outwork & related provisions contained in the Award. Now they are at it again.”
“Not only are workers in the supply chain not receiving the minimum wage but they do not receive any annual leave, sick leave or superannuation contributions”, said FairWear’s Mark Riley. “We call on BuxWear to ensure the workers in this supply chain receive their full entitlements now.”
FairWear advocates that manufacturers and retailers join the Ethical Clothing Australia accreditation scheme (formerly known as No Sweatshop label).
“BuxWear should demonstrate to school communities that it is treating workers in its supply chain fairly. Once they start to comply with the law, BuxWear will be just one step away from being accredited under the Ethical Clothing Australia label,” Mr Riley said.
“No parent would knowingly choose to dress their kids for school each day in clothes made under sweatshop conditions” said Mark Riley.
Many schools are making a clear choice to only source uniforms from ethical companies. Brunswick South West Primary is one school which wishes to wear its principles.
A shorter version of this report was published on Melbourne Indymedia, where there is also a short downloadable Flash video from the action.