satans of ethical correctness are pursuing a strategy which will have the undesired side effect of pushing manufacturing offshore, where there are real *possibilities* of "sweat" shops. I put "sweat" in inverted commas because all the loosely identified people whom this site calls "outworkers" are all working at home in airconditioned comfort (all the ones in Townsville, that is), arguably making more money. What is worst of all is that the Uniting Church is supporting this website. I am just glad that I no longer go to a Uniting Church!
Commentators who dispute the concept that the majority of outworkers are exploited
For example, some have criticised the findings of recent reports which conclude that the majority of outworkers are exploited.
Most recently, a report by the Work Reform Unit of the Institute of Public Affairs('the IPA Report') in October 2001 has questioned many of the findings of recent reports that the majority of outworkers are exploited. Their findings contradict those published elsewhere.
Vanthida Lao, spokesperson for the IPA in regard to this report, states that the failure to draw a distinction between legal and illegal operations has the effect of overemphasising the extent of the exploitation of outworkers and at the same time fails to recognise that there are many legitimate outworking businesses which offer good remuneration:
Two dollars per hour, $14 per day, seven days a week. That's the lot of hapless homeworkers, according to the unions. Don't fall for it. It's not accurate and their campaign is threatening thousands of well-paying jobs as well as the fabric of many migrant communities - including mine, the Cambodian community.
If there is exploitation or illegal activity, then that should be addressed. But it's wrong, indeed insulting, to claim that all outworkers are exploited, hapless or criminals.
My mother put my brothers, sisters and me through private schools and universities and helped buy our home by earning a good income from being an outworker. I know many families in my community who did the same thing.
She goes on to say that:
In September, I undertook, in conjunction with the Institute of Public Affairs, the first serious study into homeworkers' remunerations. We only studied people who operated legally. We did so for a number of reasons. First, most people in the industry operate legally. That is, they pay tax and only receive welfare assistance for which they qualify. Second, people who operate illegally are not going to tell me or anyone else the truth about income.
She further questions the methodology behind the recent report produced by Cregan in that it "...failed to distinguish between legal and illegal workers, bringing into question the accuracy and representativeness of the responses."
In comparison, she states that her investigation "...did not rely on memory and hearsay. We went straight to the business records showing the payments made to 58 outworkers over a three-month period covering more than 5000 hours, 13 different types of operations and 12,000 garments."
She concludes that the findings contradicted those of other reports:
What we found was a great deal of diversity, but not exploitation. The payment per garment ranged from $2.80 to $12, and the average hourly remuneration ranged from $9 to $21.80. The average remuneration per outworker surveyed was $14.41 per hour. In comparison, the award wage for level-two clothing workers is about $13.50 per hour.
The bottom line is that outworkers we surveyed made a good wage, comparable to what they would make under an award in a factory. Moreover, outworkers had a pleasanter work environment and more control over it.