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TCF outworkers in Australia may not benefit from FWA
Jan '12
The main provisions of the Fair Work Act (FWA) may not be extended to all outworkers in the Australian Textile, Clothing and Footwear (TCF) industry, after business groups warned that providing employee-like legal rights to outworkers in TCF industry would invite similar demands from other sectors like construction and transport.

Most outworkers, also called homeworkers, are first generation migrant women who have difficulty speaking English and work from home. An important aspect of the definition of an outworker is that the work is done outside the premises of the employer, either as a labour hire or on a fixed-term contract.

There was a move to extend the Fair Work Act provisions, including protection against unfair dismissal, to those working from home for the Australian TCF industry, which was especially more relevant to the garment sector.

The Australian Government is now considering not to extend the additional protections to all those who are working on contract basis in the TCF industry. It might introduce amendments to the Bill when it comes up in Parliament early this year.

Meanwhile, the Council of Textile and Fashion Industries of Australia has warned that making FWA provisions applicable to outworkers could drive manufacturing businesses in the TCF sector to other countries where they can maintain commercial viability.

Already, the TCF industry is facing challenges due to poor market conditions, soaring currency value and competition from low-priced imports, it added.

On the other hand, the Textile, Clothing & Footwear Union said outworkers need extra safeguards, as many of them are currently being exploited to stitch garments for retailers and uniform suppliers for a meager payment of AUD 3 an hour.

The Union said outworkers in the TCF industry are most vulnerable and should have better access to provisions like annual leave and superannuation.

Fibre2fashion News Desk - India

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