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    Media Statements

    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    Attorney-General and Minister for Industrial Relations
    The Honourable Cameron Dick

    Bligh Government’s new code puts sweatshop bosses on notice

    Attorney-General and Minister for Industrial Relations
    The Honourable Cameron Dick

    Sunday, October 10, 2010

    Bligh Government’s new code puts sweatshop bosses on notice

    The Bligh Government is putting clothing sweatshop bosses on notice with the introduction of a mandatory code of practice to protect workers from exploitation.

    Industrial Relations Minister Cameron Dick said the new code would help expose the notoriously convoluted contracting arrangements that have enabled some bosses to avoid their obligations to staff.

    “Some of the employment arrangements for clothing outworkers – the people who sew our clothes – can be appalling,” Mr Dick said.

    “The pay and conditions for these workers, who are often women or young people, do not meet minimum obligations but some unscrupulous bosses use complex sub-contracting arrangements to exploit their staff.

    “Troubling images of workers in these sweatshops are something we often associate with dodgy overseas operations but these workplaces can also be found in Queensland.

    “The new code will introduce a new transparency by imposing mandatory reporting obligations on all participants in the production chain.

    “Everyone involved in producing clothing – including employers, suppliers, retailers and outworkers – will be formally identified.

    “That will make it much easier to track down maverick employers who try to do the wrong thing and rip-off their outworkers.”

    Mr Dick said the new code would also protect good employers who comply with existing requirements because increased transparency would help level the competitive playing field.

    “Most businesses in this industry in Queensland do the right thing, so they have nothing to fear from this code,” Mr Dick said.

    “In fact, they can be put at a commercial disadvantage by non-compliant operators who are undercut their competitors by avoiding their obligations.”

    The code will operate in conjunction with existing legislative and award protections and will apply to anyone not currently compliant with the national voluntary code.

    Parties who have signed up to the national code will be exempt from the new code. An existing code of practice applies when contracting with the Queensland Government.

    Mr Dick said Queensland’s new mandatory code was consistent with those already adopted by New South Wales and South Australia.

    “It is in workers’ interests to provide consistency across state borders so unscrupulous employers can’t simply relocate to avoid their obligations,” he said.

    The Queensland code was approved by the Governor-in-Council this week and will come into effect on 1 January 2011.

    Media contact:
    Office of the Attorney-General and Industrial Relations Minister 3239 3487