The Queensland Government is firmly committed to providing all Queenslanders with a fair and balanced system of industrial relations.
A system that supports economic prosperity and social justice providing protections for employees and employers.
In keeping with this commitment, the Department of Employment, Training and Industrial Relations undertook a jointly funded campaign with the Federal Department of Employment, Workplace Relations and Small Business to investigate award compliance in the clothing industry.
During the campaign Queensland Industrial Inspectors investigated 98 employers in the industry and interviewed 63 of their outworkers in December 1998.
The investigations revealed a number of shortfalls in compliance which prompted the development of this Code of Practice.
Inspectors found much anecdotal and hearsay evidence of wide scale underpayment of award wages to workers said to be receiving as little as $2 per hour, as well as breaches of many other Queensland employment laws.
This was further complicated by the fact that many employers in the industry as a rule did not keep time and wage records required for Inspectors to prove breaches of award wages.
Additionally, many of the workers in the industry were found to be of non-English speaking backgrounds making the task of identifying problems more difficult.
Workers in the industry we re reluctant to give evidence in a court of law due to their fear of losing what income they had as well as being afraid of employers in the industry who we re known to threaten those wanting to complain.
Three strategies were identified as a result of that campaign to improve the status of these outworkers in the textile clothing and footwear industry.
The first was a program of prosecutions of those employers who did not keep proper time and wages records as required by law with a view to raising compliance in this regard to enable future inspections in relation to payment of award wages in the industry.
The second was a program of holding public seminars to educate workers and outworkers in the industry about their legal rights under Queensland employment law focusing mainly on award wages and conditions of employment. These seminars include translation and interpretation in five languages.
The final strategy was to develop this code of practice for major purchasers, retailers and manufacturers who want to take up the challenge of good corporate citizenship and are willing to use their economic power to raise employment standards in the industry.
I commend this code to you and urge you to comply with its requirements in an effort to prevent those who would engage in exploitative employment practices from winning tenders with your organisation.
Minister for Employment Training and Industrial Relations - Queensland