Regulating Clothing Outwork: A Sceptic's View

Weller, Sally Anne (2007) Regulating Clothing Outwork: A Sceptic's View. Journal of Industrial Relations, 49 (1). pp. 67-86. ISSN 0022-1856


By applying the strategies of international anti-sweatshop campaigns to the Australian context, recent regulations governing home-based clothing production hold retailers responsible for policing the wages and employment conditions of clothing outworkers who manufacture clothing on their behalf. This paper argues that the new approach oversimplifies the regulatory challenge by assuming (1) that Australian clothing production is organised in a hierarchical ‘buyer-led’ linear structure in which core retail firms have the capacity to control their suppliers’ behaviour; (2) that firms act as unitary moral agents; and (3) that interventions imported from other times and places are applicable to the contemporary Australian context. After considering some alternative regulatory approaches, the paper concludes that the new regulatory strategy effectively privatises responsibility for labour market conditions – a development that cries out for further debate.

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Item type Article
DOI 10.1177/0022185607072243
Official URL
Subjects Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > Centre for Strategic Economic Studies (CSES)
Historical > FOR Classification > 1401 Economic Theory
Historical > SEO Classification > 9199 Other Economic Framework
Keywords ResPubID13842, labour market, clothing industry, labour regulation, clothing outwork
Citations in Scopus 7 - View on Scopus
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