Thursday 21 October 2010
Brisbane’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission has welcomed the Queensland Government’s introduction of a mandatory code of practice for the protection of clothing outworkers.
The Commission has been involved in lobbying for the introduction of this code for the last two years.
The Commission’s Executive Officer, Peter Arndt, said that the new code would help to protect the rights of vulnerable clothing outworkers and also support employers who treat their workers fairly.
“We have been very concerned for some years about the plight of some women who work at home to make clothing for unscrupulous employers,” Mr Arndt said.
“Many of these outworkers are being paid very low rates for their work and do not enjoy the protections and conditions that other clothing workers have,” he said.
“This new mandatory code provides them better protection by ensuring that employers who are exploiting outworkers can be identified and prosecuted,” he said.
“Employers who are doing the right thing and providing fair pay and conditions for their workers will also benefit because they will not have their clothing prices undercut by those who underpay their workers,” he said.
“The code will come into effect on 1 January next year and brings Queensland into line with New South Wales and South Australia where a mandatory code has been in force for some years,” he said.
“The only disappointment we have is that the Government has taken so long to complete its consultation process and introduce the code,” he said.
“We are very grateful to the Textile Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia and FairWear, a community organisation which promotes the rights of outworkers, for their tireless advocacy of this code,” he said.
“It has been wonderful to collaborate with organisations with such great expertise and a passion for justice for vulnerable workers,” he said.
“The Catholic Church has advocated the rights of workers as part of its social teaching for many years,” he said.
“Indeed, Pope Leo XIII’s 1891 social encyclical, Rerum Novarum, gave the highest priority to providing decent pay and conditions to vulnerable workers,” he said.
“There is no human dignity for women who are being underpaid for their work and who work under poor conditions,” he said.
“Our participation in efforts to get this better protection for outworkers is in line with the Gospel commitment to the fundamental dignity of every human being,” he said.
The Commission will collaborate with other organisations to monitor the introduction of the code and to continue promoting better protection for vulnerable workers.
For further information, please contact Peter Arndt on (07) 3336 9173 or 0409 265 476.
NB This release is issued with the approval of the Commission or its Executive under the provision of its Mandate which enables it to speak in its own right when required. The views expressed in it do not necessarily represent the views of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane.