Today’s announcement that a Federal Labor Government would provide ongoing funding of $2 million a year to support the important work of Ethical Clothing Australia has been welcomed by the CFMEU Manufacturing Division, which represents workers in the textile, clothing and footwear industries.
Ethical Clothing Australia runs an accreditation and audit program which ensures Australian manufacturers’ supply chains are fully transparent, legally compliant and that workers’ rights are protected, including homeworkers and outworkers, who are among the most vulnerable in the industry.
Funding support for Ethical Clothing Australia was cut in the Liberal Government’s first budget in 2014.
The CFMEU said Labor’s commitment would help to level the playing field for Australian textile, clothing and footwear manufacturers who do the right thing by workers and supply chain workers.
“This is a great vote of confidence in our textile, clothing and footwear industry,” National Secretary of the Textile Clothing Footwear Sector of the CFMEU Manufacturing Division Jenny Kruschel said.
“While the Liberals abandoned our industry and the workers and communities which relied on it in its hour of need, today’s announcement shows that Labor cares about not just about the textile, clothing and footwear industry, but the lives and health and safety of the workers which make it great.
“In addition to slashing funding to Ethical Clothing Australia, the Liberals removed a procurement policy which required Australian government departments and agencies to procure locally and ethically.
“Since the procurement changes were made, we’ve seen some shocking decisions such as the purchase of Australian army uniforms from China without any scrutiny whatsoever of whether there was exploitation in the supply chain.
“Earlier this week, the Liberals announced a policy to promote the ‘Australian Made’ brand to the world, but they won’t even lead by example and require government departments and government-funded contractors to buy Australian made.
“If they refuse to support our important manufacturing industry in such a simple and practical way, how can they be taken seriously on manufacturing jobs?
“Voters have a choice between a Labor Government which cares about manufacturing jobs and workers, or a Coalition Government which has shown it will cut support for manufacturing at every opportunity.”
The union said today’s funding commitment built on pledges made at the ALP National Conference in December, including to procure ECA accredited products. Labor has also announced a trade policy which safeguards manufacturing jobs, a $1 billion advanced manufacturing future fund, and an Australian Investment Guarantee to support firms to invest in new technology.