The Age: From fashion to face masks, how COVID-19 is creating rag trade jobs

Published on 02/08/20

The demand for locally-made face masks has bolstered Australian clothing manufacturers enabling many to keep their doors open and employ more workers during COVID-19.

Ethical Clothing Australia (ECA), the national accreditation body for the textiles, clothing and footwear industry, reports that about a quarter of its 100 accredited businesses have changed their manufacturing to include face mask production, to meet local demand.

In a sign of the popularity for local, ethically made face masks, ECA’s website crashed last week due to the high volume of people searching for options. And many local manufacturers have experienced similar scenarios since the Victorian Government announced its mandatory face masks requirement.

ECA-accredited businesses have reported that they’re hiring more people than ever to keep up with orders and demand for locally-made, ethically produced face masks.

“Since the pandemic hit ECA has witnessed how our local industry and its workers have responded with great speed and capability. They have adapted, created new designs and made the products that are been required to protect frontline workers, and now everyday citizens, against COVID-19,” said Angela Bell, National Manager, Ethical Clothing Australia.

“It has shone a spotlight on the need to have these skills and capabilities here – that our local industry is alive and extremely valuable and they want to contribute in the response to the pandemic. It is fortunate that this is leading to greater volumes of work for our local businesses and their workers.”

Ethical Clothing Australia says it is important that workers’ rights are not forgotten during the pandemic, particularly given that the Textiles Clothing and Footwear industry has complex supply chains

“The response from the public that we have seen in the past week shows that consumers want to buy Australian, but they also want to know that the mask was made by workers who are not being exploited or working in unsafe conditions,” said Ms Bell.

You can read the full article here: https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/from-fashion-to-face-masks-how-covid-19-is-creating-rag-trade-jobs-20200729-p55gks.html