News

New work laws hit fashion industry

Joanne Rapa is concerned about the new government workplace regulations.
Joanne Rapa is concerned about the new government workplace regulations. Blainey Woodham

NORTH Coast fashion designers are worried changes to workplace laws could cripple the local industry and force jobs offshore.

The Textile, Clothing and Footwear Industry Bill 2011 was created to protect outworkers and sweatshop workers from exploitation, but Byron Bay designer Joanne Rapa said the changes will make it difficult for her to hire a local seamstress and cutter through her label Myrtle and Dove.

Ms Rapa said under the changes she must now engage contractors as employees and provide them 20 hours a week of work.

"I give the cutter 30 garments which takes him two hours to cut, so for me to give him 20 hours work is just not possible, especially as a start-up business," Ms Rapa said.

Sean Watson, the co-owner of eco-fashion label Pure Pod, said he's unsure if his home-based business in Lennox Head can still hire contract machinists.

"The government has decided these people don't have the right to run a business from their homes so if we use them we could be landed with some pretty hefty fines," Mr Watson said.

A Facebook page called Save the Australian Fashion Industry has been launched to highlight the issue.

A spokesperson for the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) said the changes provide protection for "some of Australia's most hard-working and vulnerable workers".

"The amendments do not unfairly target individual contractors working from home," the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said the changes give textile, clothing and footwear workers the same entitlements and protections as factory workers.

"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," the spokesperson said.

But Mr Watson said the local fashion industry has "been tarred" by the efforts to target sweatshops.

"It's pushing small business overseas," he said.

 

Is there enough support for Australian fashion? Leave a comment below or SMS 0428 264 948. 

Topics:  fashion designers, north coast




Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Animal rescue centre could run out of money in three months

Animal Rights and Rescue admin officer Suzanne Lavis with young Nicko who has a broken leg and was left at the vest and never reclaimed. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star

Animal Rights & Rescue is getting desperate for donations

LETTER: Woolworths 'tricking customers' about milk supplies

Woolies are hiding farmer’s milk out the back of their stores, according to our letter writer.

Woolies not helping the dairy farmer cause

Gem of a story: American soldiers rorted over sapphires

A Bombay Sapphire gin bottle, like the ones used to fool American soldiers into believing they were sold real sapphires.

Gin bottles used to sell sapphires to soldiers

Latest deals and offers

Mr Beef 2016

At Casino RSM Club. Video by Susanna Freymark

Mr Beef contestants talk the talk

Mr Beef entrants George Clarke and Nathan Conroy, of England, with last years's Mr Beef Teate Jackson (front).  Photo Doug Eaton / Express Examiner

Dylan Hancok and Nick Taylor, of Casino, will battle it out for the Mr Beef Week...

Lismore real estate agent celebrates 100th birthday

LJ Hooker Lismore principal Paul Deegan is the third generation to operate the 100-year-old family business.

A Lismore real estate is celebrating 100 years in business.

Coastal development keeps young people on Northern Rivers

Wes Bale is a 27-year-old born and bred Lennox Head local who is an example of the demographic shift in the region.

Young Northern Rivers residents are looking closer to home