Fairwear at High Court – TCFUA legal action – 2 November

Unionists and members of the Fairwear anti-sweatshop campaign protested outside the Federal Court as TCFUA lawyers began proceedings against companies for alleged breaches of the Clothing Trades Award …

MAchinist, cardboard cut-outs of 'cup' and horses, various placards

Behind the glamour of fashion and champagne at the Racing Carnival lies the grimmer reality of outworker exploitation, where dresses sellng for hundreds of dollars are made by (almost exclusively) women working excessively long hours at home for rates of pay that can be as low as $2 an hour. The Textile Clothing & Footwear Union has already prosecuted over 160 companies for failing to abide by the minimum standards set out in legislation, with one case resulting in a penalty of over $110,000, according to documentation provided by the Union at the protest. To highlight the point, Fairwear campaigners in Racing Carnival outfits complete with sashes naming some of the companies in question stood outside the Court sipping “champagne” while an “outworker” doggedly sewed away at the dress of one of them. In her hat was a ticket reading “Stop $2 an hour”.

The protest was addressed by Michele O’Neil, State Secretary of the TCFUA, Daisy Gardener of Fairwear, and lawyer Adam Bandt of Slater and Gordon. Heavy rain which had threatened to wash out the event stopped for just long enough to spare the props and dresses – not to mention the wearers and attendant media.

For full details of the anti-sweatshop campaign, visit the Fairwear website.

Just for the record, companies being prosecuted on this occasion are (label in parentheses)Black and Blue International (Black and Blue), Basics wholesale (Cafe), Denim 108 (Nobody), Desert Road p/l (Christopher Ari), Frou Frou p/l (Frou Frou etc.), Morrison Country Clothing Aust (Morrison of Auroa, Morrison Country Clothing), Blackstone Marketing (Rich), Satch (Satch), T L Wood (T L Wood Australia), Vicious Threads (Vicious Threads), Covert Fashions (De Cjuba).

Machinist sewing behind glamorous 'racegoer'

Behind the glamour … or “The Spectre at the Feast”?

Closeup of machinist - ticket in hat 'Stop $2 an hour'

Michele O'neil speaking

TCFUA Secretary Michele O’Neil warning companies the union means business