The United Workers Union (UWU) has urged the City of Melbourne and Creative Victoria to reconsider Country Road Group’s (CRG) appearance at a Melbourne Fashion Week panel.
Tomorrow morning, CRG’s head of sustainability Eloise Bishop is scheduled to appear in the City of Melbourne Fashion Week’s online discussion panel to spruik the company’s ‘ethical’ credentials. The event is also supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria.
Meanwhile, the union has been in dispute with Country Road for more than six months following the company’s refusal to offer a $1.00-per-hour wage increase for its predominantly female workforce at its Truganina warehouse.
Currently workers at the CRG warehouse – which distributes other brands such as Mimco, Witchery and Politix, as well as Country Road – are paid up to $10-an-hour less than workers from male dominated warehouses in the same suburb. Around half of the workers are on insecure contracts.
CRG received $25 million in JobKeeper subsidies from the Federal Government and is owned by South African retail group Woolworths Holding Limited (WHL), which reported more than $300 million profit last financial year.
In addition to the Federal Government support, WHL has received funding from the State Government and in 2016 it was reported that the Andrews Government had provided ‘an incentive’ to the company to relocate its corporate office from Sydney to Melbourne.
UWU National Secretary Tim Kennedy said it was unacceptable that a hugely profitable company which had received various Government hand-outs was allowed to exploit its Melbourne workforce.
“If Melbourne fashion week organisers and the City of Melbourne are serious about championing ethical, inclusive and sustainable fashion, then they will have to dump Country Road from the Melbourne Fashion Week programme,” Kennedy said.
“Country Road warehouse workers, which are taking legally protected action in pursuit of a better agreement, have been threatened and stood over by managers on site.
“That kind of behaviour doesn’t really gel with the company’s claims that it is committed to ‘high social, ethical, and environmental standards in the supply chain’ and organisers need to recognise that Country Road’s practices are neither ethical nor sustainable.”
To find out more about Country Road’s behaviour and what workers at the Truganina warehouse are pursuing, visit CountryRogue.com.au.