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Sweat Shops          

[ C o m p a n y A d d r e s s ]  


Working Conditions.   In  Australia,  there  are  300,000   people  making  clothes  for  our   major  retailers,  designers  and   suppliers  of  school  uniforms,  who   work  for  between  $2  and  $3  an   hour.  Their  basic  rights  are  being   violated.  They  have  no  or  minimal   entitlements  (holidays,  sick  leave   etc),  work  in  conditions  that  risk   their  health  and  safety,  and  work   long  hours—up  to  18  hours  a  day,   seven  days  a  week—to  meet   unrealistic  deadlines.     The  majority  of  these  exploited     employees  work  in  metropolitan   NSW  and  Victoria.  They  used  to   work  in  sweatshops—a  factory  or   shop  where  workers  are  poorly  paid  

speaking English  and  don’t  know  

and work  under  adverse  

about their  working  rights  in  

conditions—but in  recent  times,  

Australia. Vietnamese,  Chinese,  

with stricter  controls  on  workers’  

Khmer, Macedonian,  Turkish  and  

rights, sweatshops  have  started  

Arabic women  are  most  likely  to  be  

closing down.  Instead,  these  

outworkers. Sometimes  other  family  

employees work  from  home.  They  

members, such  as  children,  help  

are called  ‘outworkers’,  also  known  

after school  and  on  weekends  so  

as ‘homeworkers’.  

deadlines can  be  met.    

Who are  the  common  “slaves”  ?   Most  outworkers  are  first  generation   migrant  women  who  have  difficulty  

In the  past,  the  manufacturing   industry  employed  a  lot  of  children,   usually  between  13  and  16  years  of  

73% of   outworkers  have   one  or  more   chronic  injuries.   75%  of  clothing   companies  have   most  of  their   clothes  made  by   outworkers.     age.  However,  in  the  1950s  the  

Why do  the  laws  not  protect  the  

number of  child  factory  workers  fell  


because the  school  leaving  age  rose  

and parents  could  afford  to  keep  

There are  laws  in  Australia  to  

their children  in  school  longer.         State  laws  today  ensure  that  the   health,  safety  and  moral  welfare   of  children  at  work  are   protected  and  that  work  does   not  adversely  affect  their   education.  However,  these  laws   are  difficult  to  enforce  when   children  work  in  a  home   environment.  

Working  Hours  

prevent worker  exploitation,  such  as  

Most of  the  “slaves”  work,  more  then  

minimum wage  laws  which  set  legal  

12 hours  a  day.  They  don’t  have  

minimums for  money  paid  to  an  

health care  and  very  minor  rights  

employee per  hour.  The  problem  is  

regarding weekends.    

enforcing these  laws.  Outworkers  

are often  isolated  and  are  not  usually  

47% of  outworkers  work  more  

registered. They  also  often  have  a  

than 12  hours  a  day.  

poor command  of  English,  don’t  

know their  rights  or   whom  to  contact,  and  are   afraid  to  take  action  that   may  result  in  them  losing   their  job.    

What are we doing to top sweatshop labor? Changes to  the  outworker  industry   are  coming  about  slowly,  as  public   pressure  increases.  In  2002,  the   Retailers  Ethical  Clothing  Code  of   Practice  was  introduced,  making   retailers,  as  well  as  manufacturers,  

responsible for  the  fair  treatment  of   outworkers  (accredited   manufacturers  display  the  ‘No   SweatShop’  label).  However,  this   code  is  voluntary,  so  although  a   number  of  Australian  companies   have  signed  part  one  of   the  code  (agreeing  to   show  their  records),   very  few  have  signed   part  two  (agreeing  to   pay  minimum  wages   and  provide  safe  work   conditions  etc).  A  more   promising  law  to   improve  outworker   conditions  is  the   mandatory  code  for   retailers,  which  began   in  NSW  on  1  July  2005.   This  code  will  also  be   introduced  into  


might not  be  occurring  in  Australia,  we  

still support  it  elsewhere.  

The Homeworkers  Code  of  

Practice This  code  keeps  an  eye  on  those  who   employ  outworkers  to  make  sure   their  working  rights  are  being  met.  It   provides  accreditation  for  retailers   and  suppliers  who  meet  certain   criteria  under  the  code,  such  as:     • Outworkers  are  paid  the  correct   award  wage  for  each  garment   sewn   • Outworkers  are  covered  by   workers  compensation   • Superannuation  contributions  are   being  paid.     With  continued  public  pressure  it  seems   likely  that  the  exploitation  of   outworkers  in  Australia  can  be  stopped.   At  the  same  time  however,  there  is  a   need  to  help  stop  sweatshops  and   outworker  exploitation  overseas.  The   Australian  manufacturing  industry  is   declining  in  size.  This  is  largely  a  result   of  cheaper  labour  being  sourced  from   overseas,  in  countries  that  lack   legislation/enforcement  to  protect   workers.  Australian  companies  import   this  produce  and  own  sweatshops   abroad.  So,  although  the  exploitation  

Social  differences   Australia has sometimes been called a "classless society," though this is not strictly true. Class in Australia is generally defined on the basis of income or self identification. The terms "working class," "middle class," and "upper class" are all in use, but are difficult to define statistically. Social mobility in Australia is high and there are no formal or cultural obstacles to movement between social or economic classes. Australia's high level of multiculturalism, with many recent immigrants, also contributes to class mobility. Immigrants are often concerned to get the best possible education for their children so that they will move upwards economically. There are some differences in standards of living between rural and urban residents, as the cost of providing basic services to rural areas is generally higher. Rural regions often have more limited services and higher prices for consumer goods.

The poorest 20 percent of households earned 1 percent of private income, while the richest 20 percent earned 50 percent. For a small minority of the population (nearly all Aboriginal), levels of education and health are very low, and these people are often at or below the poverty line. Australia has been internationally criticized for this situation. The richest minority in Australia are very wealthy and play key roles in international finance. On the whole, the majority of Australia's population would probably be defined as middle class. Poorer families in Australia are generally characterized by financial struggle and limited opportunities. The national government has an obligation to provide basic services to such families. Australia, like many developed western economies, is partly a welfare state . The poorest citizens, and those on low wages or dependant upon care, receive social security and are granted access to

free or reduced price health services, education, transportation, and housing. A poorer family in Australia will most likely live in a cheaply constructed, and often highly subsidized public housing area. Many of the basic family services provided by the Commonwealth government, such as rent assistance, childcare assistance, health care, and legal aid, are often busy and run on stretched resources. This situation is more extreme in the country's rural areas. General health levels among such families are low, primarily from inferior housing, poor diet, and increased susceptibility to the abuse of alcohol and drugs. While free education has been the hallmark of the Australian school system, budget cuts have increased the actual cost of sending children to school, with poor families having to pay for many extracurricular activities. The lifestyle of a poor family in Australia is characterized by the need to work to live and support a family in the short term. Rarely, even if members of a family are employed full time, is there the financial ability to take time off work for vacations. Access to higher education, the Internet and even basic computer knowledge, and inclusion in political decision-making are all limited.

The typical family in the higher income brackets of Australian society enjoys many more opportunities, choices, and luxuries than do poorer families. Many richer families have the choice of living outside busy urban centers in rural areas within commuting distance of the cities. Those who choose to live in the major metropolitan areas enjoy spacious, well built, modern or traditional heritage housing. Education has traditionally been a priority for the richer families, and children will often be sent to private schools where the educational standards are usually far better and more inclusive of physical and personal development programs. It is not uncommon for such children to attend boarding schools in another state or region. Almost universally, higher-income families take advantage of a well-developed private health care system, with education being a key factor in better levels of health among such families. While domestic violence, drug abuse, and support services are commonly associated with poorer families in Australia, such abuses transcend socioeconomic boundaries and can also occur among the richer families. Richer families have ease of

access to private vehicles, typically 1 per person in the family, and the ability to take time off work for domestic and international vacations. In contrast to poorer families, substantial and self-funded retirement plans are universal among richer families. Such families easily access personal or home information and entertainment technology. Personal computers, reliable and private access to the Internet, cellular telephones, and entertainment technologies are common and form the basis of better connections to news, information, and public opinion. Richer families have a considerable political voice through their ability to make contributions to political parties, to be informed about current affairs, and to participate in debate. Liberal sociologists tell us that class is just one of the ways that we can divide society, alongside ethnicity, gender, religion or social outlook. Class is just one among many ways to categorise people — no more important than any other. They will also tend to define class descriptively, arguing that the term “working class” really only applies to those who work blue-collar jobs, or those who are trade union members, or excluding anyone who has been to university. By weighting the dice in this way, they can easily come to the conclusion that the working class in a country like Australia is getting smaller, almost ceasing to exist, and that we are all middle class now. How Australians in general perceive themselves and In a country like Australia, where the majority of the population would describe themselves as “middle class”, where we can all go to the same beach together, and barrack for the same national cricket team against the Poms, and where the son of a Dulwich Hill garage owner can become prime minister for the Liberal Party? Is this society still fundamentally divided by class and driven by class struggle? But is this really true? Have the Australians created a society which is largely based on equality? Many sociologists — those who can see no further than the capitalist system — will tend to define class as a matter of income, as a way of categorising society by simply looking at what people earn, or a matter of status or how they are looked upon by society.

Are a person´s class defined by his/her contribution to the society or the amount of power the person wields. A Marxist analysis however, looks to a more fundamental explanation of class, rooted in a person’s relation to the productive process, specifically to the means of production — the sum total of a society’s productive capacity that goes to producing things that are sold on the market — commodities. In order to define a person’s class, Marxists ask what level of control that person wields over the means of production. Another way of saying this, is asking whether you own part of the means of production or not, and if you are an owner, then how much? The working class in Australia: And it’s true that the nature of the working class in a country like Australia has changed over the last 50 years or so. According to ABS statistics, in 2003 over 65% of the workforce were employed in white-collar jobs of one sort or another — from teachers to nurses to bank tellers and public servants. Blue-collar occupations, which comprised over half of the workforce in 1947, are now only one-third of it. The decline in the manufacturing industry in Australia has had a massive impact. In 1966, over 26% of working-people worked in manufacturing. By 2002 it had fallen to just 12%.1 But the vast majority of people who work white-collar jobs are also members of the working class. In many cases, their control over their own work is even less than that of blue-collar workers, and often their wages are lower also.  

Social differences/Factories and working conditions  

Social differences/Factories and working conditions

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