| Daily News | News Releases | Special Bulletins | Feature Archives |

| The View from Trent | Trent Magazine | Focus Trent | Build 2000 |

Calendar of Events

Search the Site



Anti-Sweatshop Movement Gathers Momentum

For just over one year there has been a committee hard at work creating a University policy regarding garment purchases and fair labour. The goal is to ensure all garments and apparel purchased at Trent have been made under fair and equitable working conditions and not in factories where workers are exploited.

The committee involved is called the Ad Hoc Presidential Committee on Labour Practices Apparel.

"Trent's policy will address the purchase of clothing," explains Tanya Roberts-Davis, a member of the ad hoc committee and also of Trent's Students Against Sweatshops group. "The whole garment industry is full of sweatshop issues, in Canada and elsewhere - from long hours to the harassment of women in factories."

While Tanya says it is difficult to regulate the garment industry and support workers, she is pleased that Trent is moving towards an official policy. "By getting public institutions to pass policies it opens up a window on the issues," she comments, adding that many companies have been forced to disclose the locations of their factories because of recent policies created by U.S. universities. The availability of such information makes it easier for purchasers to identify which factories are violating basic workers' rights.

"In the U.S. there is more momentum around this. There are about 200 universities that have policies. In Canada only a few have picked it up," says Tanya. Trent, therefore, is ahead of many other Ontario universities and may be able to serve in a leadership/modelling role for other institutions.

A public information session is being held on Tuesday, October 8, from 5 - 7 p.m. in the A.J.M. Smith Conference Room. Input will be gathered about the draft policy developed by the committee. The committee plans to fine-tune the proposed policy and present a final version to the President's Executive Group by December.

(A copy of the proposed policy can be viewed at www.trentu.ca/sweatshop. For more information about Students Against Sweatshops at Trent, e-mail Tanya Roberts-Davis at tanya_rd@attcanada.ca. or Senior Director, Public Affairs, Don Cumming at dcumming@trentu.ca)

Photo: Tanya Roberts-Davis, a member of the Ad Hoc Presidential Committee on Labour Practices Apparel and of Trent's Students Against Sweatshops group, authored a book called in 2001 called "We Need to Go to School: Voices of the Rugmark Children." The book centres on children from Nepal who were able to leave carpet factories and go to school. Child labour, long hours, forced overtime, unsafe working conditions and issues of abuse are all factors which affect the creation of labour policies, at Trent and elsewhere.

Posted October 4, 2002

Trent Crest Return to Trent Home
Maintained by the Communications Office.
Last updated November 15, 2002