Movement Gathers Momentum
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
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 email@example.com.
or Senior Director, Public Affairs, Don Cumming at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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
Posted October 4,