Fight For Ethical Fashion Practices Continues Following Reauthorisation
4 September 2018 at 5:48 pm
An ethical clothing body says they will push for greater transparency, and protect rights for workers in the fashion industry, after receiving an unprecedented 10 year reauthorisation from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
The reauthorisation of Ethical Clothing Australia’s (ECA) Code of Practice, will allow them to continue to govern the working conditions of textile, clothing and footwear workers, with relevant legal protection from the ACCC.
ECA national manager, Angela Bell, told Pro Bono News the extended authorisation would give them “more time and space” to develop relationships with brands, and promote the work of textile, clothing and footwear (TCF) businesses.
“Previously it had been granted for five years or less, so having the reauthorisation for 10 years means we can go about the fundamentals of our work and continue engaging with governments and encourage further development of local and ethical procurement policies,” Bell said.
She said it also meant ECA was able to “introduce changes to the code”, which lifted the administrative burden for businesses.
“These changes are definitely a positive outcome, as it removes the doubling up of information and means less paperwork for the businesses and the suppliers involved.”
The ACCC said they “examined the possibility” the code could force businesses seeking ethical accreditation to incur increased cost, leading to “anti-competitive detriment”.
The commission decided the risk of this happening was “minimal” however as the code was voluntary.
Bell said it was ECA’s role to “resolve any compliance issues” during the accreditation process, but ultimately it was up to the business if they wanted to participate or not.
“The program educates these businesses owners and their supply chain participants about their legal obligations under the award and relevant occupational health and safety legislation,” she said.
“This not only means you’re ensuring that you are legally compliant, but that businesses can demonstrate to the public they are producing ethical clothing, footwear or textiles in Australia.”
Deputy chair of the ACCC, Delia Rickard, said the certification trademark allowed consumers to buy products “with confidence” from businesses that “aren’t exploiting workers”.
“Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the impact of unethical practices on vulnerable workers and some are changing their buying habits as a result,” Rickard said.
Bell added that questions around fashion ethics were “now mainstream”, and central to fashion weeks and in the fashion press.
“We’ve seen increased interest in the growth of ethical and sustainable clothing in the last five years, and we’d like to see ECA continue to be a key agent of this growth, a return to local manufacturing and the retention of vital skills needed for the industry to flourish,” she said.
The reauthorisation will take effect from 21 September 2018.