Students support sweatshop free campus campaign

Campus support shown for TRU to join Worker Rights Consortium

Jessica Klymchuk, News Editor Ω

TRUSU has met its goal of 3,000 student signatures to support TRU joining the Worker Rights Consortium. Jessica Klymchuk/The Omega

TRUSU has met its goal of 3,000 student signatures to support TRU joining the Worker Rights Consortium. Jessica Klymchuk/The Omega

The student body has spoken: 3,000 signatures have been collected in support of TRUSU’s sweatshop-free campus campaign. The notice will be presented to the Board of Governors on Feb. 14, at which point the decision will be in the hands of administrators.

TRUSU is lobbying to have TRU sign on with the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC), “an independent labour rights monitoring organization, conducting investigations of working conditions in factories around the globe,” according to their website. TRUSU set an internal goal of 3,000 signatures for the campaign, which it felt was an adequate representation of the student body.

There were 180 universities and six high schools affiliated with the WRC as of Dec. 3, 2013, seven of those are Canadian universities.

TRU would be the first university in Western Canada to be affiliated with the WRC.

After collecting 3,000 signatures back in late November, TRUSU began reaching out to member universities, such as the University of Toronto and Queens, to gain support and letters of reference to present to the board.

“It was interesting because all of them we called were positive and supportive,” said Leif Douglass, TRUSU vice president external, “but it was challenging to get them to write a letter.”

TRUSU hasn’t received any letters from member universities, but Douglass said it wasn’t a necessity to the campaign and they are moving forward with preparing the board presentation.

“Regardless of the status of the letters, we will be presenting to the Board of Governors on February 14,” he said. “There is clearly a lot of campus support.”

Back in September when the campaign was introduced, TRU’s bookstore manager Glenn Read spoke in support of a sweat-shop free campus stance, agreeing that the university does not want to be affiliated with merchandise made under poor labour conditions, despite it being difficult to know if that is even the case.

Douglass said that has been the only conversation between Read and TRUSU regarding the campaign. An evaluation of clothing suppliers and alternative options will occur if the board votes in favour of joining the WRC.

“We talked to the coordinators from the WRC as well as other universities and unless the company is specifically being monitored, they said stuff is coming from places where labour laws aren’t being respected,” Douglass said. “Now I’m sure, depending on what comes out of the board meeting, if we are going to join there will be more – then we will disclose a list of factories [and] put in a purchasing code of conduct. There will be certain steps that have to go in place.”