The majority voted in favour of a motion to read the Fair Work Amendment (Textile, Clothing and Footwear Industry) Bill 2012 a second time.
This means that the majority of senators support the main idea of the bill and that the bill can now be considered in further detail.
Debate in Parliament
Labor Senator Anne Urquhart, speaking for the Labor Government, argued that the bill was necessary to address the “ongoing vulnerability of outworkers in the TCF [textile, clothing and footwear] industry” and “the lack of a consistent approach across the country” to this issue.(Read Senator Urquhart's contribution here. )
Liberal Senator Eric Abetz, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, argued that outworkers should not be treated as employees, saying that such an approach “will stifle the young, the innovative and the entrepreneur”.(Read Senator Abetz's contribution here. )
Background to the Bill
The bill was introduced to address the poor working conditions facing vulnerable workers in the textile, clothing and footwear (TCF) industry.(More information about this bill and the context surrounding it can be found here. The text of the bill as passed by both houses can be found here.) Controversially, it extends most of the provisions of the Fair Work Act 2009 to outworkers by deeming them to be employees. It also extends specific right of entry rules to sweatshop premises. This allows a permit holder (such as a union official) to enter such premises without giving 24 hours notice under certain circumstances.