On July 31, McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario unveiled its new No Sweat policy for apparel products and other products bearing the university’s name or logo.
For the past two years, students, staff and faculty at McMaster have worked to develop a “Code of Labour Practices for University Suppliers and Licensees,” which was approved by senior administrators in June. During the code development process, representatives of MSN and the Ethical Trading Action Group (ETAG)
coalition acted as resource people and advised the university on the latest developments in codes and their implementation.
Apparel suppliers and licensees will now be required to abide by international labour standards and local labour laws, and to report annually on their progress towards compliance with these standards. The Code also includes public disclosure provisions, requiring apparel suppliers and licensees to publicly disclose the names and addresses of all factories involved in the manufacture of McMaster apparel and licensed products. Over 100 universities in the US and Canada now require public
disclosure of factory locations as a condition of licensing the university’s name and logo.
The first test for McMaster’s disclosure provisions will be the university’s “preferred supplier” contract signed earlier this year with Nike Canada. Under the term of the new Code, Nike must disclose the locations of all factories that supply McMaster University. This would be the first time Nike has been forced to publicly disclose factory locations as a condition of doing business with a Canadian institution.
To assist with the implementation of its new policy, McMaster has affiliated with the Washington-based Worker Rights Consortium (WRC). Founded by students, university administrators and labour rights experts in April 2000, the WRC has over 100 affiliated colleges and universities and allows them to better implement No Sweat policies by pooling their resources.
The WRC compiles factory information and makes it publicly available on its website. It also has the capacity to investigate reported labour rights violations in factories producing for affiliated universities. Often a single factory will be producing collegiate apparel for several universities, so a joint compliance body is an efficient way for
universities to promote compliance and investigate worker complaints.
To date, there are eight Canadian universities with No Sweat policies for apparel and/or licensed products (University of Alberta, Dalhousie, Guelph, Laurentian, McMaster, Toronto, Waterloo, Western Ontario).
For more information on the McMaster No Sweat policy, please visit:
Maquila Solidarity Network / Ethical Trading Action Group
606 Shaw Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M6G 3L6
Tel: (416) 532-8584 / Fax: (416) 532-7688