From LABOR-L@YorkU.CA Thu Mar 9 07:12:30 2000
Date: Wed, 8 Mar 2000 15:31:37 -0500
Sender: Forum on Labor in the Global Economy <LABOR-L@YorkU.CA>
P. K. Murphy <bi008@FREENET.TORONTO.ON.CA>
Subject: Update on Canadian Base Code of Labour Practice Negotiations (fwd)
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 08 Mar 2000 15:09:45 -0500
From: PERG <email@example.com>
Subject: Update on Canadian Base Code of Labour Practice Negotiations
This note is to update you on the status of negotiations for a Canadian Base Code of Labour Practice for the apparel, footwear and related consumer products industries, and to once again enlist your support to help get negotiations back on track.
In December 1999, we reported that negotiations were stalled over fundamental labour rights issues, including the right to organize and bargain collectively. We launched a holiday season campaign, urging the Hudson's Bay and Sears Canada to provide leadership to ensure the successful negotiation of a Canadian code based on ILO Conventions, with provisions for independent verification.
In response to hundreds of letters from groups and individuals across Canada and an open letter signed by six religious leaders, the Hudson's Bay and Sears Canada agreed to meet with ETAG, and the Retail Council and the Apparel Manufactures Federation to discuss how we might overcome the stalemate in negotiations. That meeting took place March 6.
The Retail Council has finally put forward a proposal on freedom of association. Unfortunately, that proposal is totally unacceptable because it does not recognize the right of workers to organize and bargain collectively. The Council has made it clear that it is not prepared to move beyond their current position. While the right to organize and bargain collectively is not the only issue in dispute, the Retail Council's refusal to recognize this fundamental human right is blocking progress on other issues.
In order to break this deadlock, we have offered to continue code discussions with any grouping of companies and/or associations that are willing to accept the ILO's four fundamental human rights at the workplace, including the right to organize and bargain collectively, and the principle of independent verification as the starting point for further discussions. (These four core labour rights are binding on all ILO member states, whether or not they have adopted specific ILO conventions.)
ETAG is now awaiting a response from the companies and associations to our proposal to restart code negotiations. At the same time, there is a very real danger that the Retail Council will release its code proposal publicly, without civil society's endorsement or support, and declare it the ethical guidelines for the industry.
For code negotiations to move forward, key retailers, including the Hudson's Bay and Sears Canada, must break rank with the Retail Council and commit themselves to the four ILO fundamental rights at the workplace, plus the principle of independent verification, as the basis for a Canadian code. Once we gain agreement on core labour rights and independent verification, we can then discuss other issues, such as minimum standards on wages and hours of work, and code implementation.
You can help get code negotiations off life support and back on their feet by writing to the Hudson's Bay and Sears Canada. We've included contact information and a sample letter below.
Thank you for your support.
P.S. We've received word that a new union organizing drive is underway at a maquila in Honduras, led by an incredible team of women maquila workers. We will send information soon on how you can support this innovative campaign. This International Women's Day, which commemorates a March 8, 1857 strike by US women garment workers, let's reaffirm our commitment to the struggles of the hundreds of thousands of women labouring behind the labels to make our clothes, shoes and toys.
SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:
David Crisp, Senior Vice-President
Hudson's Bay Company
401 Bay Street, Suite 500
Toronto, ON M5H 2Y4
Fax: (416) 861-4440
Robert Kitson, Vice-President
International Buying Services
222 Jarvis St.
Toronto, ON M5B 2B8
Fax: (416) 941-2501
Dear Mr. Crisp / Kitson,
I/we are writing to thank you for participating in the March 6 meeting of the CPET Working Group, and for your efforts to help get negotiations for a Canadian code of labour practice back on track. Continued positive efforts by you and your company will certainly increase consumer confidence that Hudson's Bay / Sears Canada takes the issue of sweatshop abuses seriously.
I/we urge your company to continue to show positive leadership in this process by committing yourselves to the ILO's four core labour rights, including the right of workers to organize and bargain collectively, and the principle of independent verification as the starting point for further code discussions. A code that does not guarantee these fundamental human rights, and that does not have the support and participation of civil society, will not be credible with members of my/our constituency, many of whom shop at your stores and buy your products.
I/we realize that all Canadian retailers and manufacturers may not be prepared at this time to endorse these fundamental human rights at the workplace as the basis for a Canadian code. However, your company and other responsible firms have an opportunity to demonstrate your ethical leadership on this important issue, which other companies will eventually follow.
Thank you again for your serious attention to this issue. We look forward to hearing more about your company's involvement in this very promising initiative.