Workers from all seven Pacific Brands sites due to close are demanding the government take immediate action in the federal budget on the future of the TCF industry.
At a national meeting of Pacific Brands workers and the Textile Clothing and Footwear Union (TCFUA) being held in Sydney, workers accused the federal government of not doing enough to save the industry and its jobs, as it has not acted on a report into the future of the industry that it received in August 2008.
Michele O’Neil, national secretary of the TCFUA echoed the workers’ anger.
“We have nine months of silence from the government. The report included practical recommendations that would help save jobs. Why hasn’t the government acted to ensure that contracts for the manufacture of uniforms for government agencies and the defence forces are only given to companies that guarantee ethical, Australian production?
The government is now considering a tender for $40 million defence force contract for non-combat uniforms, said O’Neil and some of the companies who are tending for that work intend to make it offshore.
“It’s completely unacceptable that Australian taxpayers pay for our troops to be clothed in uniforms made offshore, when it can and should be made here. It’s a concrete and practical way for the government to support local jobs,” she said.
Pacific Brands currently supply a number of state and federal government agencies including the Australian Defence Force, Victoria Police, NSW Fire Brigade and Queensland ambulance services, however, none of these contracts specify that the manufacture of the garments must be local.
“It’s wrong for the government to claim that it has done all it can to save Pacific Brands jobs. It could be using government procurement and its own contract to insist upon Australian based manufacture. That would mean these highly skilled workers will still have jobs,” said O’Neill.
“It’s time for the government to put their money where their mouth is. Next weeks federal budget must contain support for the TCF industry and real measures to save jobs.”
Almost 2000 Pacific Brands workers were told earlier this year that they would lose their jobs when the company closes its Australian-based manufacturing operations over the next 18 months.