Textile Clothing and Footwear Industry - speech in Parliament

Mr GILES (Scullin) (13:45): Last week I spoke in the parliament about and for the Bangladeshi workers who lost their lives in the Rana Plaza disaster in an entirely preventable industrial accident and in recognition and support of their struggle for justice. But I am also not forgetting textile, clothing and footwear workers in Australia.

The industry has been critical in Melbourne's north, in the past especially and still today, where hundreds of people in the Scullin electorate are employed in the industry. There are also many outworkers in Melbourne's north, including in the Scullin electorate, who work in conditions that should prick all of our consciences, just like those terrible conditions in Bangladesh do. I was horrified at some photos of outworker workplaces shown to me by Michele O'Neil, the wonderful and inspiring National Secretary of the Textile Clothing & Footwear Union of Australia.

I was shocked at the retrograde steps that this government is taking in respect of this industry and those who work in it in terms of the termination of Commonwealth funding to Ethical Clothing Australia and the winding back of hard-won protections in the Fair Work Amendment (Textile, Clothing and Footwear Industry) Act 2012—two attacks on exploited outworkers there. And there are three further measures: the revocation of the Fair Work priorities from 1 July this year, the closure of two important business support funds and the early termination of structural adjustment programs and vital access and advocacy support for retrenched workers. This government is abandoning the textile industry and, shamefully, it is abandoning vulnerable and exploited workers in that industry. (Time expired)


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