Laws breaking clothing contractor chains now in force: Vic

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Laws breaking clothing contractor chains now in force: Vic

Victorian laws that break-down complex clothing contracting chains to secure the wages and entitlements of out workers commenced on 1 November, 2003.

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Victorian laws that break-down complex clothing contracting chains to secure the wages and entitlements of out workers commenced on 1 November, 2003.

The laws seek to determine who is responsible for the payment of out workers’ wages and make the principal contractor liable for any unpaid wages, if an outworker’s direct employer disappears.

When announcing the commencement of the new laws, the Victorian Industrial Relations Minister, Rob Hulls said: ‘Outworkers are mostly migrant women from non-English speaking backgrounds.

‘They are often subjected to wages as low as $3.60 an hour, long hours and chronic underpayment or non-payment of wages.

’While the majority of employers in the clothing industry do the right thing, complex supply chains with multiple contracting layers have allowed some employers to avoid their legal obligations to outworkers.’

The new laws also classified outworkers as employees for the purposes of long service leave and OHS.

Compliance

The new laws gave government information officers enforcement powers, in addition to their role of providing information to employers, employees, outworkers and other members of the community about laws relevant to outworkers.

Also, unions had a right of entry if their officers possessed permits issued by the Court and the employer was bound by a federal award or a common rule order based on a federal award; or where outworkers were union members or were eligible to become union members.

The textile clothing and footwear union had the power to prosecute an employer for breaching the new laws and common-rule orders.

Monitoring

The Ethical Clothing Trades Council of Victoria will be established. The main role of the council will be to facilitate voluntary compliance and to secure lawful entitlements for outworkers.

For more detail on the new laws, see a previous WorkplaceInfo article: Clothing contractors subject to new reforms: Vic.

Also go to: Victorian Govt IR website.

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