US sportswear giant Nike Inc on Wednesday signed an "ethical clothing deed" with an Australian trade union to protect the rights of apparel industry workers.

The deal between the world's leading sportswear firm and the Textile Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia (TCFUA) is "a strong statement about Nike’s commitment to protect local workers' rights", said Tony Balfour, managing director of Nike Pacific.

"We hope other manufacturers in this country will adopt the same principles and standards for the betterment of the clothing industry and Australian workers," he added.

TCFUA said in a statement: "The objective of the deed is to help ensure all workers in the clothing industry, including outworkers, are protected and receive their correct entitlements".

National secretary Tony Woolgar added: "I believe this deed will form the cornerstone for future agreements with other companies as well as help improve working conditions for those in the industry and bring to account those companies who fail to provide proper working conditions or entitlements."