A $6 million funding boost is promised for Ethical Clothing Australia under a new initiative by the Labor government

Words by Kate Streader

The Albanese-led party plans to inject $6 million into Ethical Clothing Australia across three years. 

The Labor government has promised to provide a funding boost of $2 million annually to Ethical Clothing Australia (ECA), Australia’s only ethical compliance body, across three years. 

The cash injection would allow ECA to accredit more businesses in the Australian textile, clothing and footwear industry by bringing more local businesses in line with its code. 

For more on Australian fashion, check out our Fashion section. 

The ECA code ensures workers are being paid legal wages, receiving all their legal entitlements and working in safe conditions, and opens up supply chains to annual audits, creating a more transparent and ethical industry.

As well as protecting the rights of Australian garment workers, ECA helps consumers wade through greenwashing and deceiving brand statements to help them put their money towards certified ethical products and businesses. 

The Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union, Australia’s main trade union in textile, clothing and footwear production, has been calling for financial support from the federal government since the Liberal party slashed ECA funding by $1 million in 2014. 

“The union has long called for the reinstatement of funding for this national code. We welcome this commitment from Labor which will protect workers and ensure a more sustainable industry in Australia,” said TCF National Secretary of the CFMEU Manufacturing Division, Jenny Kruschel.

“When businesses sign up to the Ethical Clothing Australia code, they are committing to legal wages and opening up their supply chains to annual audits. It’s good for their business and protects vulnerable workers.”

A recent global study suggests nine in ten consumers want to buy ethically-sourced products, though local and small businesses struggle to compete with international competitors who are able to keep prices low for consumers by underpaying workers and cutting corners. 

The proposed $6 million funding boost would help to create more jobs in the fashion industry, as well as give Australian manufacturers a competitive edge over their international counterparts. 

The textile, clothing and footwear industry also played a crucial role in the pandemic, with many small businesses and supply chains shifting to the production of PPE when global supply chains broke down. 

“Australia must be a country that makes things. We saw the way the textile, clothing and footwear industry responded to the global shortage of PPE including face masks last year,” said the Shadow Minister for Industry and Innovation, Ed Husic MP. 

“We know that building transparent and ethical supply chains gives local businesses a competitive advantage. It gives them the edge over international competitors, a secret weapon that yields better profits and jobs.”

To find out more about Ethical Clothing Australia, head here.

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