Gary Doer sets an example for the rest of Canada
Winnipeg (30 August 2006) - Manitoba is about to become the first province in Canada to ensure that none of the clothes it buys are produced in global sweatshops.
The change by the NDP government of Premier Gary Doer follows five years of lobbying on the issue by numerous groups and individuals, including the Manitoba Federation of Labour. Resolutions on the topic were passed at three recent Manitoba NDP conventions.
The policy will go into effect sometime this fall.
Sweatshops exist around the world, exploiting millions of men, women and children who labour at slave-wage rates without benefits - often in dangerous working conditions. Most sweatshops, but not all, are located in Third World countries. Companies such as Wal-Mart, Nike, Hudson Bay, Cisco, Dell, Coca-Cola, McDonald's and Burger King make billions every year on the backs of sweatshop workers.
Manitoba spends an average of $1.6 million a year on clothing, including uniforms for security guards, prison guards and natural resource officers, as well as on clothing for inmates at provincial jails, and safety clothing such as work gloves and lab coats.
Labour federation president Darlene Dziewit says the province is setting an example for the rest of Canada to follow.
"When the policy goes into effect, I am confident that it will contain strong requirements for clothing suppliers to disclose the names and locations of the factories where their product is produced," she says.
"The suppliers need to ensure that these factories comply with labour laws and accords of the International Labour Organization (ILO) in order to do business with the Government of Manitoba."
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) has urged consumers to check for union-made logos and to avoid companies that make a practice of exploiting sweatshop labour in all its forms. NUPGE