A mandatory national scheme is needed to make Australian companies work towards improving the terrible and dangerous conditions in foreign sweatshops, like those revealed in a Four Corners report this evening, the Australian Greens have said.
“The real cost of Australia’s cheap clothes isn’t measured in dollars and cents, it’s measured in human suffering,” the Greens’ consumer affairs spokesperson, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said.
“As long as companies like Kmart, Target, Cotton On, Coles, Forever New and Rivers continue to be complicit in the horrific and shocking conditions that led to the Rana Plaza collapse, they are profiting from that misery.
“A mandatory labelling system that details where an item of clothing came from and what conditions it was created in would help to inform consumers and prevent suffering.
“The companies have shown they can’t be trusted to tackle this issue themselves and the government now needs to implement a national system whereby retailers are made to work towards better conditions for their employees."
The Australian Greens’ trade spokesperson, Senator Peter Whish-Wilson said that the Greens have always called for 'fair trade' not 'free trade'.
"It is not fair trade to have thousands of workers in a single, dangerous building, often operating under appalling conditions, just so Australian brands can have even higher profit margins,” said Senator Peter Whish-Wilson.
"Social, environmental and ethical issues can’t be ignored in terms of trade and we are calling for supply chain certification for clothing products sourced from developing countries as part of all current and future agreements.
"The Greens had a big win late last year when the Australian Government agreed to analyse and state upfront all costs involved in future trade agreements, so we can and should consider ethical and social considerations in all our decision making on trade," he concluded.
Noah Schultz-Byard (Sen. Hanson-Young) 0427 604 760
Thomas Moore (Sen. Whish-Wilson) 0488 334 733