Rag Trade (letter)by Warren BrayNews Weekly
, June 1, 2002
Andrew Bolt raises the concern of the negative influence pantheism and other non-Christian beliefs are having over our society and legislators ("The high price of misplaced idealism", News Weekly
, April 20, 2002).
Unfortunately, he uses this argument to justify the exploitation of his fellow Australians. He infers that they should be thankful that they have a job, remain submissive and allow themselves to be exploited.
The "Fair Wear" campaign is against the exploitation of workers, not the doing of work.
Most outworkers are in this circumstance as a result of failed government industry policy. Thousands of clothing trade workers have lost their jobs as hundreds of factories have been forced out of business across the country.
The workers, unions, legitimate employers, morally responsible wholesalers and retailers and the Queensland Government have agreed on a Code of Practice on employment and outwork obligations.
The aim is for responsible employment practices in this area which includes the registration of businesses using outworkers so that industrial inspectors can ensure that employees are paid correctly according to law.
The people who work at home are not the problem. They are not breaking industrial law.
The problem is the so-called employers who do not observe the conditions set down in the awards; do not register that they are using outworkers; and unlawfully exploit their employees.
In the main, outworkers are relatively inarticulate, therefore a soft target for those who promote this unsavoury practice.
I have been an employer in the rag trade for over 40 years and spoken to many workers. I have spoken to only two people working from home who had equivalent wages and conditions to working in a legitimate factory.
Home workers are in this situation out of a strong commitment to support themselves, but do not have the option of regular job opportunities requiring their particular skills. There have not been any new industries emerge to take up the unemployment created.
Sweatshops are a disgrace in any society. The only people who advocate this exploitation are those who are directly involved in this practice and those who benefit financially.
Has Andrew Bolt been misinformed? I hope so, as to date he has seemed a ray of hope for objectivity in the journalistic world.Warren Bray,