[ 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
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.
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
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 Â differences Â 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.
http://www.nationsencyclopedia.com/economies/Asia-and-thePacific/Australia-POVERTY-AND-WEALTH.html 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.