The ACCC considers the Homeworkers Code is likely to provide businesses with a means to manage risks in their outsourced supply chains, and efficiently signal their compliance with workplace legal obligations.
Council of Textile and Fashion Industries of Australia (TFIA) CEO Richard Evans says, “What the ACCC has failed to do is give any weight to the many submissions from small businesses operating within the sector; instead, they chose to listen to parties with a conflict of interest, such as the Union.”
“When the Code was first initiated by industry, there was little supporting industrial relations law,” Evans said. “Since that time, we have the Fair Work Act with its specific reference to the TCF sector and a new Award. Surely this is enough. Why do we need further regulation such as the Code?”
“The Homeworker Code Committee (HWCC) is not representative of the industry, and their idea for expanding the Code to include textiles is a blatant free kick for the Union,” Evans said. “For Australia to have a sustainable TCF industry we need a cultural change, and unfortunately the ACCC may have considered making rational changes the industry needed all a little too hard.”
“If the ACCC truly supports the Union view, that there is significant exploitation of independent contractors in the TCF industry, then we would like to see the evidence,” Evans said. “It is time to stop mythologising about exploitation and provide the evidence.”
“If the ACCC truly supports a behavioural change in the TCF sector, then they need to be strongly recommending a significant rethink of Government policy,” Evans said. “My experience with industry codes suggests education is the main vehicle for improved behaviour, not the thick rod of authority the Union currently wields through this Code and the other over regulation of a fragile industry.”
“What is absolutely old world thinking by the Commission is the extension of the Code into the textile industry,” Evans said. “Not sure there are many homeworkers stitching a carpet together in a garage somewhere in suburbia; although, I wouldn’t put it past the Union to argue there is.”
The ACCC hearings identified significant submissions from small businesses seeking confidentiality.
“There are three regulatory instruments controlling the TCF sector and four regulators. By any measure this is far too much,” Evans said. “The most recent inquiry into the TCF sector did not identify systemic workplace problems, yet the HWCC and the Union argue very strongly there is, but cannot provide any evidence.”
“The ACCC is a regulator, and we understand they are limited in what they can do, but this decision is a blinkered approach to the TCF industry,” Evans said. “This ‘see no evil, hear no evil and thus speak no evil’ approach ignores the weight of the submissions from weary small businesses.”
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