Release type: Media Release


Better protection for hardworking and vulnerable Australian workers


The Hon Bill Shorten MP
Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Financial Services and Superannuation

Workers in the textile, clothing and footwear industry will benefit from better working conditions following the passing of the Fair Work Amendment (Textile, Clothing and Footwear Industry) Bill 2011 legislation today. 

“The legislation will provide enhanced workplace protection for some of Australia’s most hardworking and vulnerable workers, in particular outworkers”, Minister for Workplace Relations Bill Shorten said. 

“These are workers who are predominantly female, performing insecure work, often with poor English language skills and no great understanding of the laws and practices that should apply in Australian workplaces.”  

The legislation implements the Gillard Government’s commitment to nationally consistent approach to protecting these workers by: 

  • extending the operation of most provisions of the Fair Work Act to contract outworkers in the TCF industry;
  • providing an effective mechanism to enable TCF outworkers to recover unpaid amounts up the supply chain;
  • addressing a limitation that currently exists in relation to right of entry into premises in the TCF industry operating under ‘sweatshop’ conditions; and
  • allowing for a TCF outworker code to be issued.

“If a business already complies with the outworker provisions in the TCF Award and relevant state legislation, then these changes should have limited impact on them”, Mr Shorten said. 

“Only those that flout existing laws - by exploiting outworkers, by forcing them to work in sweatshop conditions, and by taking advantage of the vulnerable - should be concerned. 

“This Bill reflects the Government’s commitment to make work fairer for some of Australia’s most productive yet vulnerable workers."