Sunday, 26 November 2006

International Buy Nothing Day

Hi Supporters and Shoppers!

As is our tradition, in support of International Buy Nothing Day – weare closing our online store on November 24, 2006 andwill reopen late in the day on November 25. Since Adbusters put it sowell in the Blackspot Newsletter that we just received, we decided toinclude their missive in this email to all of you.

Enjoy Buy Nothing Day!

XO Kat for the grassroots teams of
(COMING SOON: the revamped 2.0 site, and the Campaign4 Corporate Harm Reduction. Did the film inspire you to take action?Tell us what you did:
And now a message from:
Dear Blackspotters,

As we toil to make the Blackspot venture bear fruit, we think it's agood strategy to occasionally pause and take stock of all of the idealsthat motivated all of this effort in the first place. That's why we hopeyou'll join us this Friday or Saturday (November 24th and 25th) incelebrating the 14th annual Buy Nothing Day.

This year's Buy Nothing Day has a special poignancy. Never before haveour emerging environmental crises been planted so firmly on the lips ofthe policymakers and the general public. Rather than screaming from thefringes, high-profile economists and scientists are sounding thewarnings in respected journals and the halls of parliament -- warningsthat our oceans are dying, that the ice shelves are melting, and that weare setting ourselves up for the most massive and widest-ranging marketfailure the world has ever seen.

All of this points to a profound need for a shift in the way we seethings. Recycling, protecting our waterways, driving hybrid cars -- allthe old environmental imperatives -- are great, but it's becomingobvious that they don't address the core problem: we have to change ourlifestyles, we have to change our culture, and we have to consumesmarter and consume less.

This is the message of this year's Buy Nothing Day, and there are only afew days left to get that message out onto the streets. From the quietlysublime to the crazily anarchic, the ways in which you can mark BND areonly limited by the imperative not to spend. Strut your stuff as if thefate of whole planet is resting in your hands, because even if each ofus only does one small thing to contribute, tens of thousands of smallthings sure add up!

At the BND campaign headquarters - that's -we've already featured upcoming actions in Japan, the UK, Canada, andthe USA, with more to come from all over the world, including Brazil,Colombia, Denmark, Hungary, Spain and Sweden. You can also downloadposters and other resources, as well as connect with activists in yourown little corner of the globe.
Remember: Make a scene. Make people laugh. Make them think. If you haveto, make them angry. Just get out there.


P.S. Blackspot Shoe sales - as well as the entire Adbusters Culture Shop - will be disabled for the entirety of Buy Nothing Day.
Good Company Communications Inc.
308-611 Alexander, Vancouver, BC
V6A 1E1 Canada

Friday, 24 November 2006

Streets To Screens: fundraising series of the Toronto Public Space Committee

November 16, 2006 through to February 8, 2007 is the winter season of Streets To Screens: The fundraising series of the Toronto Public Space Committee []

The Toronto Public Space Committee is dedicated to celebrating shared common spaces, and protecting them from political erosion, commercial influence, and privatization. This fundraising film series aims to raise awareness about urban issues through the power of film.

The series occurs at the Bloor Cinema and the Toronto Free Gallery. Visit the site for details of independent films about the cities we live in, the spaces we share, the obstacles we face and the people who are trying to make a difference.

Thursday, 23 November 2006

'Philanthropreneurs' - rethinking the microcredit "miracle".

Microcredit, Macro Problems
by Walden Bello

The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Muhammad Yunus, regarded as thefather of microcredit, comes at a time when microcredit has becomesomething like a religion to many of the powerful, rich and famous.Hillary Clinton regularly speaks about going to Bangladesh, Yunus'shomeland, and being "inspired by the power of these loans to enable eventhe poorest of women to start businesses, lifting their families--andtheir communities--out of poverty."

Like the liberal Clinton, the neocon Paul Wolfowitz, now president ofthe World Bank, has also gotten religion, after a recent trip to theIndian state of Andhra Pradesh. With the fervor of the convert, he talksabout the "transforming power" of microfinance: "I thought maybe thiswas just one successful project in one village, but then I went to thenext village and it was the same story. That evening, I met with morethan a hundred women leaders from self-help groups, and I realized thisprogram was opening opportunities for poor women and their families inan entire state of 75 million people."

There is no doubt that Yunus, a Bangladeshi economist, came up with awinning idea that has transformed the lives of many millions of poorwomen, and perhaps for that alone, he deserves the Nobel Prize. ButYunus--at least the young Yunus, who did not have the support of globalinstitutions when he started out--did not see his Grameen Bank as apanacea. Others, like the World Bank and the United Nations, elevated itto that status (and, some say, convinced Yunus it was a panacea), andmicrocredit is now presented as a relatively painless approach todevelopment. Through its dynamics of collective responsibility forrepayment by a group of women borrowers, microcredit has indeed allowedmany poor women to roll back pervasive poverty. However, it is mainlythe moderately poor rather than the very poor who benefit, and not verymany can claim they have permanently left the instability of poverty.Likewise, not many would claim that the degree of self-sufficiency andthe ability to send children to school afforded by microcredit areindicators of their graduating to middle-class prosperity. As economicjournalist Gina Neff notes, "after 8 years of borrowing, 55% of Grameenhouseholds still aren't able to meet their basic nutritional needs--somany women are using their loans to buy food rather than invest inbusiness."

Indeed, one of those who have thoroughly studied the phenomenon, ThomasDichter, says that the idea that microfinance allows its recipients tograduate from poverty to entrepreneurship is inflated. He sketches outthe dynamics of microcredit: "It emerges that the clients with the mostexperience got started using their own resources, and though they havenot progressed very far--they cannot because the market is just toolimited--they have enough turnover to keep buying and selling, andprobably would have with or without the microcredit. For them the loansare often diverted to consumption since they can use the relativelylarge lump sum of the loan, a luxury they do not come by in their dailyturnover." He concludes: "Definitely, microcredit has not done what themajority of microcredit enthusiasts claim it can do--function as capitalaimed at increasing the returns to a business activity."

And so the great microcredit paradox that, as Dichter puts it, "thepoorest people can do little productive with the credit, and the oneswho can do the most with it are those who don't really need microcredit,but larger amounts with different (often longer) credit terms."

In other words, microcredit is a great tool as a survival strategy, butit is not the key to development, which involves not only massivecapital-intensive, state-directed investments to build industries butalso an assault on the structures of inequality such as concentratedland ownership that systematically deprive the poor of resources toescape poverty. Microcredit schemes end up coexisting with theseentrenched structures, serving as a safety net for people excluded andmarginalized by them, but not transforming them. No, Paul Wolfowitz,microcredit is not the key to ending poverty among the 75 million peoplein Andhra Pradesh.

Dream on.

Perhaps one of the reasons there is such enthusiasm for microcredit inestablishment circles these days is that it is a market-based mechanismthat has enjoyed some success where other market-based programs havecrashed. Structural-adjustment programs promoting trade liberalization,deregulation and privatization have brought greater poverty andinequality to most parts of the developing world over the last quartercentury, and have made economic stagnation a permanent condition. Manyof the same institutions that pushed and are continuing to push thesefailed macro programs (sometimes under new labels like "PovertyReduction Strategy Papers"), like the World Bank, are often the sameinstitutions pushing microcredit programs. Viewed broadly, microcreditcan be seen as the safety net for millions of people destabilized by thelarge-scale macro-failures engendered by structural adjustment.

There have been gains in poverty reduction in a few places--like China,where, contrary to the myth, state-directed macro policies, notmicrocredit, have been central to lifting an estimated 120 millionChinese from poverty.

So probably the best way we can honor Muhammad Yunus is to say, Yes, hedeserves the Nobel Prize for helping so many women cope with poverty.His boosters discredit this great honor and engage in hyperbole whenthey claim he has invented a new compassionate form ofcapitalism--social capitalism, or "social entrepreneurship"--that willbe the magic bullet to end poverty and promote development.

Walden Bello is professor of sociology and public administration at theUniversity of the Philippines and executive director of Focus on theGlobal South, a research and advocacy institute based at ChulalongkornUniversity in Bangkok. He is the author or co-author of many books onpolitics and economic issues in the Philippines and Asia, including,most recently, Deglobalization (Zed), and recipient of the 2003 RightLivelihood Award also known as the "Alternative Nobel Prize."

© 2006 The Nation

Vanmala Hiranandani, PhD, MSW
Assistant Professor
School of Social Work
Dalhousie University
6420 Coburg Road
Halifax, NS B3H 2A7

Tuesday, 21 November 2006

TransFair Canada Fall 2006 Newsletter

Dear colleagues and supporters,

Please find attached our latest public newsletter, "FAIR TRADE ECHOES".Feel free to pass it around; all the newsletters are also available on our website. As always, your comments and ideas are most welcomed!

Warm regards

Chantal Havard
Media & Public RelationsMédia & Relations Publiques
328 Somerset St. West
Ottawa, ON K2P 0J9

Thursday, 9 November 2006

Urgent - Walmart in Phillipines Petition

November 1, 2006

Striking workers at the Chong Won Fashion factory in the Philippine Cavite Export Processing Zone, who make clothes for Wal-Mart, have endured violent attacks by EPZ police, the dismantling of their picket line tent shelters, mass dismissals, and attempts to ban them from reentering the Zone. On Friday, November 3, leaders of the workers' union will finally have an opportunity to meet with representatives of Wal-Mart, factory management and other stakeholders in an attempt to remove some of the road blocks to a fair settlement to the dispute. Over the next couple days, it is extremely important that supporters of the Chong Won workers around the world send a message to Wal-Mart to use its considerable influence to help resolve the dispute and open the door to negotiations between the union and the employer. Our colleagues at the International Labor Rights Fund (ILRF), who are working with MSN on this campaign, have set up an online petition to pressure Wal-Mart to do the right thing. Please visit the ILRF website today and add your name to the petition: For background information on the Chong Won strike, please visit the MSN website at: Thank you for your support.

Maquila Solidarity Network
606 Shaw Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M6G 3L6
416-532-8584 (phone) 416-532-7688 (fax)
Tell Starbucks to Give Ethiopian Farmers Their Fair Share

Dear Supporter,

Each year, coffee companies make billions of dollars. Starbucks alone earned almost 5.8 billion in net revenues during the first three quarters of 2006. Yet, for every cup of coffee Starbucks sells, poor farmers in coffee-growing countries like Ethiopia earn only about .03. Even worse, while Ethiopian farmers grow some of the finest name-brand coffees in the world - think Harar, Yirgacheffe, and Sidamo - they don't see the premium profits those names command among consumers. Tell Starbucks to give Ethiopia control over its coffee names. With as many as 15 million Ethiopians dependent on coffee, Ethiopia has decided to get its farmers more of what they deserve. The country's government has asked Starbucks to sign a licensing agreement that will allow Ethiopia to control the names of its coffee. That way, Ethiopia can help determine an export price that makes sure farmers see a larger share of the profits enabling them to feed their children, send them to school and get them better healthcare. Oxfam and a coalition of allies are asking Starbucks to sign this agreement. According to one coalition member, control of the name brands could increase Ethiopia's coffee export income by more than 25 percent - or 88 million annually. This money could go a lot way to help lift millions of Ethiopians out of poverty. So please, help us convince Starbucks to sign this agreement with Ethiopia. Poor farmers deserve a fair share of the profits.

Bill Hynd
Oxfam Canada
Glorious meal at Annapurna

I would like to express my heartfelt THANK-YOU to a man at the Annapurna Restaurant who generously shared the speciality-of-the-house recipe with us. He not only found the time to talk to us about the secrets of chai tea preparation, but also spontaneously offered a written description of the "magic" process. That’s my idea of an unforgettable dining experience!

Inclusive cities project aims to have outcomes federal government can apply

Wednesday, October 27, 2004 -
Roderick Benns
A national inclusion initiative encompassing five cities across Canada is aiming to find solutions for social exclusion that all communities can benefit from.

The aim, says Christa Freiler, national co-ordinator for Inclusive Cities Canada, will be to enhance social inclusion across Canada. "We’re keen to make social inclusion something the federal government can apply. The government has talked a lot about social inclusion, but I don’t think they have applied it to the community sector well" yet, she says. The project began last November and is now at the stage where the information has to be studied. The initiative grew out of work accomplished by the Laidlaw Foundation and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. The project involved the Community Social Planning Council of Toronto embarking on a collaborative effort with four other social planning partners across Canada, as well as the Federation. The federal government’s social development ministry has been providing multi-year core funding, with supplementary start-up funds from the Laidlaw Foundation. The initiative has a major focus on children, families and youth, particularly those from diverse and vulnerable populations, according to the project overview. The five cities involved in the initiative are Vancouver/North Vancouver, Edmonton, Burlington, Toronto and Saint John. Social development and planning councils are facilitators in all five cases. Community focus groups examined people’s perceptions of the inclusiveness of their city and communities. Such questions as "what would give them a sense of belonging and recognition?" "What would have to change in the way that they experience life in the community and larger society?" were asked, according to the project overview. Freiler says she believes the inclusion initiative is necessary to "sensitize institutions and government to the fact that there are people who are not able to participate as valued members of communities." Although official recommendations from the inclusive cities initiative will not be made available until January next year, the national co-ordinator of the project says there are some likely areas of focus that will emerge. She offers three examples. "I think we can expect, in most cases, recommendations on more inclusive models of policing" in communities, she says. "There are many instances where youth and others would be better served with a more inclusive police force." Freiler says recommendations can also be expected around developing more civic engagement initiatives, particularly for youth. And, finally, she says recommendations will likely be forthcoming on more inclusive models of community services. Freiler says it will be important for the project to address prevention as well as fixes. "We have to be better able to identify the conditions that have to exist at the core to make sure people don’t get excluded in the first place," she explains. Civic panels will produce the recommendations early in 2005 including a description of what works and what will not work. Then, a cross-Canada report will be the focus of a national symposium in April to develop and promote policies to strengthen social infrastructure and build inclusive cities across the country. Freiler says once the key findings and recommendations are made, the information will go back to the original focus groups across Canada for input story from
Gildan Gets Mixed Reviews in latest report

September 27, 2006
Re: MSN, WRC, EMIH report on Gildan Activewear (Honduras)

Dear Friends,
Today the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC), the Honduran Independent Monitoring Team (EMIH), and the Maquila Solidarity Network (MSN) released the second and final update on the verification of Canadian T-shirt manufacturer Gildan Activewear's compliance with a January 2005 agreement to give priority hiring opportunities to approximately 1,800 former employees of the company's Gildan El Progreso factory in Honduras. MSN is not requesting any action as follow up to the final update. The company closed the factory in August of 2004. The surprise announcement of the company's decision to closure the factory was made in the midst of joint discussions between Gildan, the WRC and the Fair Labor Association (FLA) about a corrective action plan to remedy the unjust firings of some 80 union supporters. The verification of compliance with the priority hiring agreement was carried out by EMIH. It found that in the first full month of the agreement, Gildan hired only 20% of the 171 former El Progreso workers who filled out applications, but during the same month hired 145 workers who had never previously worked for Gildan. However, EMIH found that following the initial stage, compliance with the agreement seemed to improve with an increasing proportion of former El Progeso job applicants being hired each month. The update concludes that Gildan's remedial response would have been much more effective had the first hire policy been adopted and implemented immediately following the factory closure before workers were forced to make decisions about whether or not to stay in the region. It goes on to say that it would have been preferable if Gildan had opened a new facility in the El Progreso area, rather than 90 minutes by bus from the town where most of the former Gildan El Progreso workers lived. The release of the update comes on the same day as an announcement by Gildan that in December 2006 it will be closing its textile manufacturing facility in Valleyfield, Quebec and downsizing its knitting facility in Montreal, Quebec. Approximately 200 workers will be out of a job as a result. Gildan also announced that in three or four months, it will be closing and downsizing its sock manufacturing facilities in Mount Airy, North Carolina and Hillsville, Virginia. As a result, approximately 335 positions in the US will be eliminated. According to Gildan, "[t]he Company will treat all employees fairly and will make every effort to alleviate the impact of this transition for the employees whose positions are eliminated." The update on Gildan's compliance with the January 2005 priority hiring agreement includes a series of recommendations to Gildan based on the El Progreso experience. To access the full report and recommendations, go to:

Maquila Solidarity Network / Ethical Trading Action Group
606 Shaw Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M6G 3L6
416-532-8584 (phone)
416-532-7688 (fax)
Is Fair Trade a good fit for the garment industry?

A Discussion Paper from the Maquila Solidariry Network - September 2006

Fair Trade coffee and bananas are making their way into mainstream markets. But, with the exception of a few alternative trading companies that market clothing manufactured in worker-owned cooperatives or unionized factories as 'sweatfree' or 'Union Made', to date there have been only minimal efforts to create alternative markets for fair trade apparel products. All of that could change with the emergence of a number of new initiatives in North America and Europe in which fair trade and/or labour rights organizations are moving toward the certification of apparel products as 'fair trade' or 'sweatfree'. Can a 'fair trade' apparel brand expand the fight for worker rights or would it reduce the pressure on mainstream apparel companies to change their labour practices? Would fair trade apparel brands finally give consumers an effective way to "vote with their dollars" or could they actually confuse and demobilize consumers? And what will it mean for worker organizing in the apparel industry? The Maquila Solidarity Network explores this emerging debate in the first of an exciting new series of Discussion Papers profiling critical issues, challenges and debates in the labour rights movement as we enter our second decade of activism against sweatshop abuses in the garment and sportswear industries. Download Is Fair Trade a good fit for the garment industry? at We would welcome your comments and are planning to publish alternative perspectives on this important issue on our website. We also welcome suggestions for other themes and/or debates to profile as part of this series. Watch for our next Codes Memo in December assessing developments and trends in voluntary codes of conduct and implementation systems over 2006.

Lynda Yanz,

Maquila Solidarity Network / Ethical Trading Action Group
606 Shaw Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M6G 3L6
416-532-8584 (phone) 416-532-7688 (fax)
Canadian Annual Fair Trade Sales Increase By 47%

Worldwide sales of Fair Trade products rise by a third as Fair Trade sales in Canada reach 47%

New figures released today by the Fairtrade Labelling Organization (FLO) International reveal that global sale of Fair Trade Certified products have increased by 37% between 2004 and 2005. Meanwhile in Canada, TransFair Canada recently announced that Canadian sales of Fair Trade products have increased by 47% in 2005. TransFair Canada is a member of FLO which unites 20 national initiatives across Europe, Japan, North America, Mexico and Australia/New Zealand. Global Fair Trade figures are unveiled to coincide with the publication of FLO’s annual report for 2005. The speed at which the sales are growing shows an increasing demand from consumers for a positive model of trade which is fairer and more sustainable for farmers and is helping them to bring development to their communities. “Fair Trade Certification significant worldwide growth in 2005 also shows that more and more producers, traders and licensees trust the Fair Trade Certification Mark and look to join the system. Increasingly, companies are knocking on the door of the labelling organizations because they want to have the Cer­tification Mark on their products. In only one year, from 2004 to 2005, the number of licensees offering Fair Trade Certified products in­creased by 29%. The certification system is absolutely independent from any interest, and this is what people trust”, says Luuk Zonneveld, managing director of FLO International. One of the more recent companies to join is Marks and Spencer, one of the largest food and clothing retailers in the UK. The entire range of Marks & Spencer’s coffee and tea, totaling 38 lines, switched to Fairtrade in a move which is estimated to increase the value of all Fairtrade instant and ground coffee sold in the UK supermar­kets by 18%, and increase the value of Fairtrade tea by approximately 30%. But Marks and Spencer is only one out of several of companies around the world that have become involved in Fairtrade in 2005, representing a growth of 29% from 1151 in 2004 to 1483 licensees in 2005. The increase in the Fair Trade range and Fair Trade sales means that more producer organizations are able to sell to the Canadian Fair Trade market. Globally, the number of certified producer organizations has grown by 127% since 2001 to 548 groups in 58 countries and the number of registered traders has increased by 132% in the same period. “The Fair Trade system encourages farmers in Africa, Asia and Latin America to organize into democratically run groups and implement changes in agricultural practices. This ensures that the gradual improvements which Fair Trade makes possible are sustainable, giving communities a real chance to build a brighter future,” says Luuk Zonneveld. Tadesse Meskela, General Manager of Oromia Coffee Farmers’ Co-operative Union in Ethiopia explained: “With Fair Trade coffee, farmers in Ethiopia are getting their deserved reward. Fair Trade is not just about selling and buying. It is creating a global family.” Mr. Meskela told how the collapse in coffee prices has affected farmers. For most of the last six years coffee prices have remained below the cost of production, causing immense hardship for millions of farmers. In 2001, prices plummeted to just 45 US cents per lb and farmers in Ethiopia were forced to sell the corrugated iron roofs from their homes. Thanks to Fair Trade there is now hope for some of the farmers who have lived through such desperate times. FLO is investing more and more resources back into producer organizations: in 2005 it set up the Producer Business Unit to increase the support to Fair Trade Certified producer organizations. The Unit brought together the previous Product Managers and Producer Support structures within FLO, and now numbers 10 people in Bonn, Germany, as well as a growing number of locally-based “Liaison Officers”. Thanks to a partnership with the Dutch business advisory organizations SNV, the number of liaison officers on the ground has increased to 25 and a further 5 will be recruited by the end of the year. It is expected that 370 producer organizations, representing 600,000 families, will benefit from the cooperation between SNV and FLO.
For copies of the 2005 annual report and/or further information, please contact Verónica Pérez, Communication Officer, at FLO International.
Tel:++49 228 949 2314
TorontotheBetter business Grassroots supports to Ontario Clean Air Alliance

As the Province continues to experience a growing number of smog days, Grassroots will by donating 10% of their net sales to the Ontario Clean Air Alliance during their Feel Good Friday promotion. On June 30th please shop at Grassroots to support the work of the Ontario Clean Air Alliance (OCAA). Grassroots, which opened its first store in 1994, is a community-based retailer offering environmentally-friendly products that allow people to make positive choices for themselves, their communities and the planet. Beyond being simply a retail store, Grassroots participates in BikeShare, offers in-store workshops, showcases local artists and is powered by 100% green electricity. Over the years, Grassroots has won many awards including the Green Toronto Award of Excellence from the City of Toronto in 2005. You can shop at either of Grassroots' two Toronto locations or online at They are located in Riverdale at 372 Danforth Avenue (Chester subway station) and in the Annex at 408 Bloor Street West (either the Bathurst or Spadina station). The OCAA thanks Grassroots for its support. Correction In our bulletin on Thursday, June 22, we said that the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario (ECO) has called for the McGuinty energy plan to be subject to a full environmental assessment. In fact, what the ECO specifically called for was for the province to post a notice of its proposed EA exemption regulation (O. Reg. 276/06) on the Environmental Bill of Rights Registry. We apologize for the error. Please pass this message on to your friends. Thank you.
Jessica Fracassi
Communications & Membership Manager
402-625 Church St, Toronto M4Y 2G1
Phone: 416-926-1907 ext. 245
Fax: 416-926-1601

The Ontario Clean Air Alliance is a coalition of health, environmental and consumer organizations, faith communities, unions, utilities, municipalities and individuals working for cleaner air through strict emission limits and a phase-out of coal in the electricity sector. Our partner organizations represent more than six million Ontarians.
TakeTheTooker and fight climate change, smog and Toronto transport inequity

In late February, new bike lines started appearing along Bloor Street. A new blog documents the progress of this grassroots initiative and demonstrates that a continuous, Bloor/Danforth bike lane from Mississauga in the west to Scarborough in the east is possible. Visit and help make a bicycle expressway a living legacy for Tooker Gomberg.

April 17, 2006
City of Vancouver cuts funds to implement their Ethical Purchasing Program

Just over a year ago the City of Vancouver became the first Canadian city to approve an Ethical Purchasing Policy to ensure that city apparel is produced under fair working conditions. The City assigned one full-time staff person to enforce the policy. The Vancouver policy is seen as a model by other cities and No Sweat activists across Canada. few days ago, Vancouver’s new City Council gutted the landmark Ethical Purchasing Policy. Even though a report by staff indicated that the City had actually saved money on apparel purchases since the policy was adopted, the Council voted to leave the policy guidelines in place, but cut the necessary funding for a staff member to enforce the policy. “Without staff resources to implement and oversee the city’s ethical purchasing policy, the program has been reduced to an empty gesture,” stated Miriam Palacios, spokesperson for the BC Ethical Purchasing Group, who campaigned to achieve the original policy. The BC Ethical Purchasing Group is asking for Vancouver City Council to revisit the issue and restore the resources required to continue with this important project. As a model for other Canadian cities currently considering Ethical Purchasing Policies, the effective implementation of Vancouver’s policy must be maintained and enhanced. Requested Action: Please write a letter to the Mayor of Vancouver and ask that Council restore the resources to enforce their Ethical Purchasing Policy. We also ask that the Vancouver City staff investigate opportunities to collaborate with other municipal jurisdictions in implementing their Ethical Purchasing Policies.

A model letter and addresses can be found below. Please write your own letter and send copies to MSN.



Dear Mayor Sullivan;

I am writing from [INSERT YOUR CITY/TOWN] to urge you to reinstate the funding to implement Vancouver’s Ethical Purchasing Policy. Vancouver’s policy is an outstanding example of a city using its tax dollars to protect the most disadvantaged rather than to subsidize unethical practices. Properly enforced, Vancouver’s policy will uphold internationally-recognized standards in the apparel industry. It will protect honest suppliers from unethical competitors who undercut their prices by exploiting workers. Without enforcement, Vancouver’s policy will not achieve the goals for which it was adopted. In adopting your Ethical Purchasing Policy you provided a model for municipalities across Canada to follow. I know that a number of Canadian municipalities are currently following Vancouver’s lead and preparing to adopt ethical purchasing policies of their own. Cutting back the enforcement of Vancouver’s policy sends a negative signal to other Canadians who are trying to do the right thing and look to Vancouver’s example. Please reinstate the funding for staff to enforce Vancouver’s Ethical Purchasing Policy and restore Vancouver’s reputation as a city that is committed to upholding workers rights. I understand that Vancouver city staff reported that the costs of implementation in the past year were less than originally anticipated, and that Vancouver actually saved 14,000 last year on apparel when implementing the EPP. Rather than cutting staff to reduce costs, perhaps it will be possible to identify future savings and give increased effect to the Policy by instructing Vancouver City staff to investigate opportunities to collaborate with other municipal jurisdictions in Canada and the United States in implementing their Ethical Purchasing Policies.



Send your letters to: Mayor Sullivan at

Please copy your letters to:

“Councilor Suzanne Anton”
“Councilor Elizabeth Ball”
“Councilor George Chow”
“Councilor Heather Deal”
“Councilor Peter Ladner”
“Councilor Raymond Louie”
“Councilor Tim Stevenson”

And please send a copy of your letters to:
Background information:
Maquila Solidarity Network / Ethical Trading Action Group / 606 Shaw Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M6G 3L6 416-532-8584 (phone) 416-532-7688 (fax) /
Google Caves in China

Time to Search for a New Search Engine? "Gagging on Google" [from NOW Toronto]

Tuesday, 7 November 2006

WTO Hatches Deal in Hong Kong
[courtesy of Kairos]

Negotiating teams from the 149 member states of the World Trade Organization (WTO) converged in Hong Kong December 13-18, 2005, for the 6th Ministerial Conference. The last two attempts at moving global free trade forward had ended in spectacular failure: Seattle in 1999 and Cancun in 2003. The clock was ticking. The legitimacy of the WTO – indeed the very idea of free trade – was on the table. A third failure could cause a fundamental shift for the future of globalization. In this pressure cooker scenario, on par with a thriller, the week-long meeting was full of intrigue, uncertainty, conflict, manipulation, posturing, deception, and – sometimes – action. The exact outcome was never quite clear, the storyline taking a different path with each new storyteller. In fact, the ending – after a week’s worth of high drama – was superficial at best, in true Hollywood fashion. Regardless, there is cause for concern. The tepid deal hatched in Hong Kong validates the current unjust institution. Most disturbingly, it brings with it new dangers, new ways to cement global corporate power at the expense of people, communities and the environment. Prologue: Ready for Landing As the time arrived to get on the plane to Hong Kong was fast approaching, a flurry of activity took place in Geneva. As in previous Ministerial Conferences, the Chairs worked behind closed doors with a “selected group of countries” until the 11th hour, patching together a draft Ministerial Declaration by early December. This Declaration relied on each Negotiating Chair (Agriculture, NAMA, and GATS) submitting their Report as an Annex to the Declaration. As negotiating teams landed in Hong Kong and made their way to the spectacularly glossy Hong Kong Convention Centre, past the shiny, bountiful shopping boutiques of Prada, Cartier, and Yves St. Laurent, it was far from clear that the meeting would result in a deal. More than anything, the legitimacy of the WTO hung in the balance. Having so much to lose, the US, EU, Canada and others were determined to salvage the flagging institution while many feared that the narrow self-interests of some Southern countries would dominate the negotiations, resulting in a bad deal for all. At the same time, thousands of activists from around the globe also arrived in Hong Kong and marched in the first of several protests planned throughout the week. Having no real opportunity to have their voices heard behind the barricades, the opposition was strong on the streets of Hong Kong. Kong Yee Sai Mau! (No WTO!) The pressure was on. The final curtain opened as the lights went up on this high-stakes drama. ACT I: Hong Kong, China, 2005 The 6th Ministerial Conference opened with a rousing speech from WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy. This was countered by a rousing demonstration of activists who seized the opportunity to remind negotiators of the undemocratic nature of the talks and the billions of people whose lives are impacted by back-room deals. Lamy, however, insisted on the so-called participatory nature of the WTO: “You all have the right to speak, the right to agree, the right to disagree. In sum in spite of all criticism, the WTO decision-making process is democratic.” (WT/MIN (05)/13 page 2-3) The US and the EU were crystal clear from the outset that if they were to “give in” on agriculture they would need to get something in return in Services or NAMA. Yet their obligations under agriculture were pre-existing obligations stemming from the Uruguay Round in 1994. To now turn them into a negotiating item, making them a trade-off to ensure further liberalization under Services and NAMA, was absurd and fundamentally unjust. Canada’s position was disappointing but not surprising. Although Minister of International Trade Peterson had repeatedly committed to a defensive position vis-à-vis preserving Canada’s supply management system and state trading enterprises, Canada went into Hong Kong with an aggressive agenda on NAMA and Services. Peterson stated: “In NAMA we seek real improvements in market access,” and on services, added, “Canada feels that a plurilateral negotiating process can improve the quality of offers….” (WT/MIN (05)/ST/20, page 1) The Canadian government was clearly choosing to advocate for corporate interests searching for expanded markets over a development agenda. High drama at its finest The WTO is incredibly undemocratic in countless ways. The very nature of the Conference is a no-holds barred, no-sleep fest where major decisions are made late into the night by whomever is left standing in the ‘invitation-only’ Green Room. It has the air of a buddy-buddy old boys club that you are either in or want to be in. Jokes are made about the lack of sleep and number of coffee cups consumed. The Green Room itself, a negotiating tactic recognized to be counter to consensus decision-making, is now spoken about openly and figures as the butt of many jokes. It is scandalous that decisions impacting the lives of billions of people are made in a pressure cooker that literally relies on negotiators sleep-deprived capacity to function in order to make a deal. As a result, although the Global South came to Hong Kong with alternative proposals and demands, very few of them made their way into the draft texts or the text that ultimately was agreed upon. According to KAIROS partner Tetteh Hormeku of Third World Network Africa, the Less Developed Countries (LDCs) submitted several hundred proposals on agriculture, only five of which made it into the official text for discussion. The G20 submitted a market access proposal; the G90, the ACP (Group of 77 from the African, Caribbean and Pacific Regions), and others presented proposals on different aspects of negotiations including agriculture, services, and NAMA. On NAMA, Venezuela, Namibia, Argentina and South Africa wrote a joint letter demanding that flexibility be treated as a separate issue from the formula reduction. In Services, another group of countries, the Philippines, Kenya, Venezuela, Mauritius, and South Africa, highlighted the undemocratic nature of the process by which Annex C which allows for sectoral and plurilateral negotiations was included in the Hong Kong Declaration. The LDCs held firm on the need for Duty Free, Quota Free access for their goods while CARICOM (Caribbean Community) demands centred on the precariousness of small economies within global trade, emphasizing the need for Special and Differential Treatment. Indonesian Trade Minister Mari Pangestu, spokesperson for the G33 countries, consistently emphasized their key demands for Special Safeguard Measures and Special Products in agriculture, two policy tools that would enable Southern countries both to impose border restrictions on goods coming in and also exempt key products from liberalization. Yet, in the upside down world of global free trade, the selection of proposals – deciding which letters become official correspondence and which ones don’t – and the weight given to negotiating positions was clearly skewed in favour of Northern positions, which in large measure were designed to secure markets for the most powerful global actors, the multinational corporations. Act II: Negotiations reach a climax At the mid-point, the stalemate was at its peak, the tension was palpable and something had to give. Thus, on December 16th, the G20, G33, the ACP, LDC Africa group, Small Economies and the G90 held a historic press conference announcing their newly formed alliance, the G110 (Group of 110 countries). They declared that by coming together they would harmonize their negotiating positions for the first time. The group issued a statement reiterating their now joint support for (a) the complete elimination of export support measures by 2010; (b) the importance of Special and Differential Treatment in agricultural negotiations; (c) the role of Special Products and Special Safeguard Mechanisms as a means of addressing food security, rural development and livelihood concerns of developing countries; (d) LDC duty-free and quota-free market access; and (e) specific measures to provide adequate responses to the issues raised by small, vulnerable economies. (Joint Statement Dec.16th, 2005) Speculation was immediate and fierce. What did the future hold for the negotiations? The combination of so little movement and so much frustration was reaching a climax. As the spokesperson for each group within the G110 rose and linked their arms in an act of solidarity, observers were sure that the constantly turbulent WTO was on its way to another spectacular crash. Meanwhile, on the streets of Hong Kong, each day brought with it a number of workshops on alternatives, demonstrations and protests. The strongest voices on the ground came from Via Campesina, the small farmers and farm workers grassroots movement. The media focused its attention on the Korean farmers who came to Hong Kong in large numbers. From the first day of protest, they were well-organized, vocal and provided strong leadership. They repeatedly highlighted the forced exclusion of those impacted most by these policies. As the Ministerial Conference opened, numerous men and women jumped into ice-cold water and tried to gain access by swimming to the Convention Centre. On December 17th, they led the march to the Convention Centre, attempting to push past police into the inaccessible meeting. Their courage on the front lines was an amazing display of sheer determination stemming from their understanding that this was a life and death issue. In recent years, thousands of farmers, facing overwhelming despair, have killed themselves; others have felt compelled to kill themselves to call attention to the death facing all farmers and to demand action. That night, police used brute force, rubber bullets, tear gas, and attack dogs to squelch dissent. Hundreds of people were arbitrarily arrested, denied food and water and held without charges. To date, three of those prisoners remain in jail. Addressing accusations against Via Campesina of violence, Jose Bove charged: “The WTO is institutional violence. The WTO is killing farmers. We are fighting for our lives.” That same day, inside the Convention Centre, the first revised Text was received by the Heads of Delegation (HoD) Meeting. Its lack of movement on the Development Round triggered a strenuous critique. Incredibly, the agriculture discussions had barely moved, with no end date for export subsidies, no agreement on the cotton issue, and no clear integration of Special and Differential Treatment disciplines (SDT). The ACP issued a clear rejection of the Swiss formula on NAMA, which would force countries with higher tariffs, namely the Southern countries, to undertake deeper cuts than countries with lower tariff starting points, namely the Northern countries. In Services, several countries expressed concern about the Annex C text, both for the blatantly undemocratic way in which the text was introduced as well as its content which made a commitment to plurilateral negotiations. Canada, as one of the supporters for the new text and consistent with its short-sightedness regarding possible implications for Canadians, was a strong advocate for its full acceptance. Passion, anger, and concern were evident in the powerful comments coming from the South. On behalf of the LDCs, the Zambian representative declared “development at a deadlock” adding that “the text is not positive enough for the LDCs. There are 700 million people living in the LDCs and they represent less that 1% of trade. How can this be delayed!” Saint Lucia, on behalf of the Caribbean countries, stated: “The text is unsatisfactory and lacks a clear development focus … this text can mean food on the table of our families or not, education or not, healthcare or not.” The Zimbabwean representative, the last to speak, best summed up the deal by stating, “Someone said we needed a platform, we hope it will not propel us into a pond full of crocodiles.” (Informal report on HoD Meeting) Act III: The Hollywood ending And so amidst an air of acute disagreement, high tension, and melodrama the bets were in favour of collapse. Yet, somehow within the next half dozen hours an agreement was hatched and dispatched. And that agreement – for the most part – stayed the same as the original text, committing countries to plurilateral negotiations in Services, the harsh Swiss Formula of tariff reduction in NAMA negotiations and making a few “debateable” gains were had by the Global South which upon closer scrutiny are clearly not firm concessions. 2013 is the date for export subsidies but the declaration states that this date will be confirmed when modalities are complete. The cotton agreement talks about export subsidies but not domestic subsidies, the most problematic and highest quantity while duty-free and quota-free market access for LDCs commitment does not go far enough because the declaration only states “on a lasting basis.” Moreover, duty-free and quota-free market access will be provided for at least 97% of products originating from LDCs. Again this apparent gain is countered by the reality that the remaining 3% will enable Northern countries to protect against key products produced by Least Developed Countries and open their markets to those products that are only nominally produced When it came time to accept the deal, it seemed only two countries were courageous enough to go against the ‘big boys’ and voice their concerns. Much to the chagrin of Conference Chair Donald Tsang, Cuba and Venezuela rose to express their concerns in the form of exceptions. As to others, even if they wanted to disagree, the pressure was on, particularly from the new Quad members Brazil and India, for everyone to accept the deal. Consequently it would be too politically costly for Cuba and Venezuela to derail the week’s product by themselves. They had to go along but they did so reluctantly, articulating exceptions in both the NAMA and GATS sections of the Ministerial. At the closing session they requested that the exceptions form part of the final document, hoping that the legal standing of the exceptions would lead to a future favourable outcome for the Global South. Where was the historic Group of 110 countries who had vowed to stick together and harmonize their positions? Where were the African voices – those who may have received some immediate gains but at what future cost? Perhaps everyone was just plain exhausted; perhaps they put vast amounts of trust in Brazil and India; perhaps because so much was made of the lack of movement in agriculture that once there was movement there was no way NOT to accept the deal, regardless of the cost. Or perhaps, at the end of the day, the pressure and political cost was simply too high. And so a deal that never should have been, materialized from Hong Kong right on schedule on December 18, 2005. Epilogue: Destination unknown Chairman Tsang’s gavel banged one final time, signalling the end of the 6th WTO Ministerial. The Doha Development Round and indeed, the WTO had been saved – barely. Any hopes for gains in the development agenda though, have once again been reduced to nothing more than rhetoric. Disturbingly, this Ministerial Declaration provides a dangerous new platform for future negotiations, even though there is still so much that has yet to be accomplished within the current agenda. In order for the Doha Development Round to be completed successfully a real deal on modalities – spelling out and agreeing to the frameworks and formulas – needs to be accomplished by the deadline date of December 2006. In the meantime, within member countries there is still a lot of concern and disagreement on many aspects of the AoA, GATS, and NAMA agreements. Without doubt, Hong Kong dramatically increased the level of solidarity, accountability, and harmonization among Southern countries as they worked to define and shape their relationship in the context of global power. The WTO urgently needs to be put on its head. It needs to be dismantled and replaced with an alternative model that places people, communities and the earth at the centre. Communities need to have policy flexibility and sovereignty: the right to choose their own development path – a path that recognizes the role that women play in the formal and informal economy and is ecologically sound. Such globalization would be intentionally global by building community, solidarity and alternatives across race, class, sectors, and borders. Such globalization would lift up and share ‘on the ground’ alternatives and support Southern positions that are of the people and for the people. Each Ministerial brings with it new signs resistance to the Northern corporate agenda, particularly in Latin America, but elsewhere too. People whose lives have been decimated by neo-liberal globalization and free trade are electing governments that they see as responsive to their needs. These governments and the G110 alliance have the potential to derail the WTO and demand a new way forward for global trade. The turbulent flight of the WTO plane has landed it back in Geneva once again. Typical of any major Hollywood epic, as this one came to a close it laid the groundwork for its sequel. The passengers are all at home unpacking what was gained, what was lost and how to move forward. A pivotal shift to a just trading system or a final cementing of corporate rights hangs in the balance. People and movements the world over rise early to strategize, resist, pressure, and transform the corporate agenda of the WTO as the stage lights go down, and the curtains are drawn for a brief intermission.
Female Coffee Growers Find New Freedoms in Peru
By Sadie Hoagland - WeNews correspondent

NUEVO YORK, Peru (WOMENSENEWS)--Her hands move methodically down the branch, raking the red coffee cherries into the basket around her neck. She moves to the next branch, demonstrating the work of harvesting coffee. Watching her dexterity and strength, one would never guess that Rosa Cantalina Sanchez is 66 years old. Glades Valencia, 14, is doing the same thing, running her hands down the branches as if she were braiding hair. Sanchez and Valencia represent a life's work of coffee growing in northern Peru. Even though many of the region's farmers have attained "Fair Trade and Organic" certification in order to grow higher premium beans, the most a coffee-farming family can hope to make is 1,200 a year, and only 400 in poorer areas. The average annual per-capita income for this region is about 1,300, according to the Organic Products Trading Company, an import company based in Vancouver, Wash., that works with the growers. That level of poverty describes about 68,600 families in northern Peru who together produce 49 percent of Peru's coffee--about 273.2 million pounds--almost all of it grown for export. In a rural, male-dominated society, the high level of poverty translates into special problems for young women, who are more often sent to the fields instead of school and who are married off as early as 12 to lighten the family's financial burden. Sanchez is one of the 60 percent female majority of the rural, coffee-working population of Peru. For years she worked 10 to 12 hours a day during coffee harvest, only to receive whatever money her husband decided to give her after the coffee was sold. The fair trade co-ops have traditionally been a man's world supported by women's sweat, but in Peru things are changing for Sanchez and hundreds of women like her: They are demanding their own profit from their labor. A Women-Owned Brand In 2003, over 400 female growers in northern Peru decided to start their own coffee brand. They called it Cafe Femenino and made it a specialty coffee that would raise global awareness about the harsh gender inequality that the coffee workers face. The growers sought the help of Isabel Uriarte Latorre, a Peruvian woman who, with her husband, has helped the country's agrarian communities for decades by showing cultivators how to form co-ops that can maximize their income and lead to local infrastructure improvements, such as roads. Latorre, in turn, sought the help of Gay and Garth Smith of the Organic Product Trading Company, a coffee-importing firm that has a long-standing relationship with the growers in Peru. They agreed to buy the coffee, import it to the U.S. and sell it to their roasters. Now, 60 roasters in the U.S., Canada and Australia willingly pay an extra two cents a pound over the purchase price to contribute to the women and to the Cafe Femenino Foundation, which focuses on the women's economic development. Roasters agree to donate an additional 2 percent of gross sales to the project or to a women's crisis center near their homes, and a woman in their business must sign the Cafe Femenino contract. Cafe Femenino goes a step further than simply putting a fair-trade label on its coffee, which indicates that it has been certified by the Fair Trade Labeling Organizations International in Bonn, Germany. The nongovernmental organization makes an independent consumer guarantee that the coffee has been bought at a fair, non-exploitative price from the farmer. This standard has been globally set at 1.39 per pound, which can be up to 1 above the market price for coffee. Traditional Roles Are Changing Women in Peru are traditionally seen as workers and mothers, not as decision-makers or landowners. "It is part of the culture that women are just for having children," Latorre says, estimating that the average woman in the most impoverished Cafe Femenino communities is the mother of seven. In order for a woman to join the co-op, she must show that her own name is on the deed to the land she works. Since the coffee income is greater with the Cafe Femenino fair-trade program--the women make about 17 cents more per pound, or about 30 percent more than the average coffee farmer--it benefits the whole family, a persuasive argument for the husbands to cede land to their wives. Latorre also sees to it that the money generated by Cafe Femenino is given directly to the female farmer. Another portion--the income from the two-cents-per-pound surcharge--is devoted to the co-op, for all the women to determine how it will be spent. Cafe Femenino sent its first shipment in August 2004. Those 19,000 pounds of coffee brought in 27,000 to the women's co-op. The first year's extra income has been invested in coffee production, but the psychological effects of the higher income are already rippling through the communities. Now women are meeting together independently to talk business, and the men are not preventing them from doing so. Talk of Revolution One such meeting takes place at dusk in the high mountain village of Nuevo York in Amazonia. Balloons hang brightly across the small town green as part of a celebration for the Smiths who have returned for their second visit. As a lively band plays Peruvian dance music, the women gather around Gay Smith and Latorre. They talk of needing more training in organic farming methods and better communication among themselves and with other Cafe Femenino growers across the Andes. "We need to get into high schools and understand markets, we want to reclaim our rights as women," says one female grower, Santos Vasquez Dias, 57. While the meetings are all about business, facilitators hope that the conversation will eventually expand to social needs. Latorre, for her part, already perceives a decrease in household violence. "Women are not being treated as badly," she says. "Men have more respect for women." Smith notes how much more organized and confident the women are now, compared with her visit last year when the growers--even though no men were present--would hardly speak in meetings. This year a few men stand at the edge of the circle with arms folded, as if guarding something. But the women ignore them; they want the men to be involved and to benefit from this project too. But it is clear that this time, they will be in charge.

Sadie Hoagland is a freelance writer based in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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Note: Women's eNews is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites and the contents of Web pages we link to may change without notice. ________________________________________________________________ For any comments about this and any other story, please send a letter to the editors at Copyright 2005 Women's eNews. The information contained in this Women's eNews report may--with the prior written authorization of Women's eNews--be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed. To obtain permission, go to and provide the publication or broadcast date and the name of the newspaper, magazine, radio or television station, cable network, Web site, newsletter or list serve where it will be replicated. Please include the approximate size of the audience you intend to reach. ________________________________________________________________ Women's eNews is a nonprofit independent news service covering issues of concern to women and their allies. An incubator program of the International Institute for Community Solutions, Fund for the City of New York, Women's eNews is supported by our readers; reprints and licensing fees; and the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the International Institute for Community Solutions, Fund for the City of New York; the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation; the Barbara Lee Family Foundation; the Open Society Institute; the Rockefeller Family Fund; The Helena Rubinstein Foundation; the Sister Fund and the Starry Night Fund of Tides Foundation. The donations from readers are critical to our success. They are an important measure that we are serving our audience--the yardstick that our foundation supporters will measure us by. Donate now by going to
Now you can buy products from Argentina's recovered companies

**Visit The Working World Market and spread the word!** Dear Friends of The Take, In keeping with our ambivalent attitude towards the seasonal consumer frenzy, we are sending you a message encouraging you to buy things after you've already done your holiday shopping! Thank you for your wonderful activism in the past year: with petitions, fax attacks and email floods, you have been dedicated in fighting for the Argentine workers' movement we documented in our film. But today you have a chance to support the movement in a new and constructive way. Many of you have heard of The Working World, an amazing organization started by Brendan Martin, an audience member who saw The Take in New York City. Over the past year, we have raised more than 100,000 to launch a democratic capital fund to support the recovered companies in Argentina. And we've hired many of the people in Buenos Aires who helped make The Take - including Lalo Paret, the movement organizer who is one of the main characters in the film. So far we've made 14 successful loans at minimal interest ñ helping cooperatives buy machines and raw materials, and helping create good jobs in democratic workplaces. Today, we're launching a new project: The Working World Market. The site is still in its infancy, but for the first time (if you live in Canada or the U.S.) you can buy products from Argentina's recovered companies, knowing that every possible cent is going directly to the workers themselves. We're still working the bugs out of our international/online ordering system, so by ordering from the site you'll also be helping out The Working World, as we grow and get better at this end of our project. When I saw the first draft of the website, I gasped: it is a dramatic reversal of the typical consumer experience. The prices are half what you would pay in a retail store. Instead of slick ads and shiny logos, you meet the people who made the products, and learn about their inspiring struggles. And the best part is that you see precisely where every cent goes: and the vast majority of it goes directly to the workers. In the months ahead we'll add many more products from other worker-run businesses, and expand our delivery to Europe and beyond. But in this season of endless shopping, we wanted to give you an opportunity to meet some of the workers you didn't meet in The Take, and be able to support them directly thanks to the efforts of one of your fellow audience members!
Happy Holidays,
Avi Lewis Director,
"The Take"
Revaluing Peasant Coffee Production

Organic and Fair Trade Markets in Mexico

The emergence of significant new markets for organic and "fairly traded" products has been hailed as an important part of the effort to address the chronic poverty suffered by many small-scale coffee producers in the developing world. With 20-25 million producers around the world suffering from a prolonged crash in coffee prices, the premiums in these niche markets may offer a way out of crisis. A new study of Mexican organic and Fair Trade coffee markets offers both hope and caution for these new market-based responses to the coffee crisis. In their new report, "Revaluing Peasant Coffee Production: Organic and Fair Trade Markets in Mexico," researchers Muriel Calo and Timothy A. Wise, find that: Organic coffee premiums are too low to adequately cover the 2-3-year conversion to organic production; Fair Trade markets, with their guaranteed prices, can bring producers to profitability and are playing a crucial role in cross-subsidizing the conversion to organic production; Even for producers with access to niche markets, coffee prices alone still fail to compensate producers for their labor and their social and environmental contributions. Only a minority of producers are likely to gain access to niche markets, so government intervention in international coffee markets will be crucial to solving the coffee crisis. While the study suggests that niche markets alone are unlikely to provide a comprehensive solution to the coffee price crisis, they have an important role to play in promoting more sustainable livelihoods and in beginning to revalue the environmental, economic, and cultural contributions of small-scale farmers in an increasingly global economy. "Revaluing Peasant Coffee Production: Organic and Fair Trade Markets in Mexico" is available online at: For more on GDAE's Globalization and Sustainable Development Program:
Royal York Room Attendants and Union Charged with Engaging in an Illegal Strike

Royal York Retaliates Againist Workers for Picketing in their Uniforms

On Thursday September 22nd, room attendants took breaks at the same time to ensure that every room attendant is able to take his/her break. On Monday October 3rd, the Royal York Hotel charged the Royal York room attendants and their union, UNITE HERE Local 75, with engaging in an illegal Strike. A worker has been warned by the Employer as a of her participation in a picket at the Royal York on August 23rd. Workers at the fairmont Royal York are in a legal strike / lockout position.

Labour Solidarity Picket
When: Friday October 7th, 2005
Time: 12:00 Noon to 1:30 P.M.
here: Royal York Hotel at Front and Bay

Stand up for Hotel Workers The Royal York is the first contract for continent-wide effort to raise the standards for hotel workers in North Amercia. The Royal York needs to "Stop the Pain"- a fair workload for all workers, especially room attendants, and fair wages and benefits. (Room attendant with lifetime beds made, Labour Day 2005) Hotel Workers are Standing Up for Us: Contract Demands include Fair Labour Standards Workers at the Royal York want to ensure the Royal York uses union construction, union laundry and union uniforms. Let's Tell the Royal York that Toronto is a Proud Union City For More Information Contact:
Andrea Calver Phone: 416- 510- 0887 x 310
by Saul Landau

"If this irresponsible outside power is to be controlled in the interest of the general public, it can be controlled in only one way - by giving adequate power of control to...the National Government." Theodore Roosevelt, Stae of the Union Address. Dec. 8, 1908 "Big government cannot and will not solve the multitude of problems confronting our nation because big government is the problem" Sen. Jesse Helms, speech to the North Carolina Legislature May 27, 1997 When I see people drinking water from bottles I think of Ronald Reagan and how he destroyed the New Deal. Go back to 1936 when I was born and the first New Deal ended. From 1933-35, President Roosevelt tried to revitalize the economy by paying farmers not to produce while millions went hungry (Agricultural Adjustment Act) and using government as broker between industry and labor (National Recovery Act). The second New Deal, however, turned the federal government into an entity that cushioned poor people as they fell from the ledge of misery toward the pavement of disaster. The grossly underpaid and mistreated workers population found solace in the 1935 National Labor Relations Act (Wagner Act), which strengthened protection of collective bargaining. The Social Security Act offered working people a chance to have modest pensions when they could no longer earn wages. The Act also established unemployment insurance payments and a rudimentary welfare system allowing dependent children and handicapped > people to get government help. New Deal legislation convinced poor Americans to believe in their government, including its word that they could safely drink the water running from the tap. In my youth, I don't recall people drinking from plastic bottles. We used public fountains. Before privatization, bottled water couldn't have competed with tap water. The triumph of bottled over tap water symbolized the decline of the political alliance between the poor majority and the government: the New Deal, that informal pact between unions and other groups of poor people and their representatives in national office. In the mid 1960s, this alliance included including civil rights and inspired the only other meaningful American reform of the 20th Century: the Great Society Program. Lyndon Johnson's Great Society expanded the New Deal. Between 1964 and 1966, he pushed through The Civil Rights Act and Equal Opportunity Act of 1964, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the Medicare Act and Voting Rights Act of 1965, plus programs like Head Start to help poor children of pre-school age, and laws giving legal and medical help to the needy. The most activist sectors of the corporate world had had enough. Led by extreme anti-liberals like Richard Mellon Scaife In 1963 he began supporting the American Enterprise Institute. Other inheritors of fortunes, like Lynde and Harry Bradley, Joseph Coors, Castle Rock Foundation and the Olin Foundation, set up the Heritage Foundation and other think tanks with well-paid "conservative" intellectuals to undo the momentum generated by three decades of liberalism. This anti-New Deal campaign selected its villain as "big government," which they presented as the corrupt waster of taxpayer money. They represented their vilification of the federal national government as a step to returning power to citizens. Ironically, weakening the government does not return more control to the citizenry. Instead, the great corporations and banks become stronger as government regulations fades. Arthur Schlesinger Jr phrased it as "Getting government off the back of business simply means putting business on the back of government." The American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation and scores of less known but well endowed propaganda mills cranked out more sophisticated tracts against liberalism and the New Deal. They undermined New Deal and Great Society programs with simple themes: hate the government and don't pay taxes to it. Instead, respect the virtuous private sector. (Military and police remain, of course, good branches of government.) By 1976, the aggressive campaign had pushed the Democratic Party to the right, so that candidate Jimmy Carter adopted anti-government rhetoric. In 1978, California voters backed Proposition 13, a tax revolt notion that drastically limited the State Legislature's ability to raise property taxes and placed limits on spending for public education as well. The results: rich people paid minimal taxes; poor and middle class home owners saved a few hundred or even a few thousand dollars. California schools, number one before voters passed Prop 13, plummeted. But working class voters failed to see that the massive propaganda campaign had swayed them to vote against their own interests. Indeed, in 1980 the blue collar voters tipped the scales of the 1980 presidential election as well. Reagan drove the nail into the coffin of modern liberalism. In his campaigns for California governor during the 1970s he underlined the theme of government as the enemy of the people. In 1976, stumping for the Republican nomination for president, he talked about a "welfare queen," who drove a Cadillac and stole 150,000 from the government using 80 aliases, 30 addresses, a dozen social security cards and four fictional dead husbands. Reporters wanted to interview this "welfare cheat," but discovered that she didn't exist. In the 1960 presidential campaign, Reagan satirized Carter as running for the presidency on a platform calling for "national economic planning." Then he added, sarcastically, "I'm sure they meant well - liberals usually do. But our economy was one of the great wonders of the world. It didn't need master planners. It worked because it operated on principles of freedom, millions of free decisions, how they wanted to work and live, how they wanted to spend their money, while reaping the rewards of their individual labor." In a 1984 Good Morning America show, Reagan went further. "Those people who are sleeping on the gratesthe homelessare homeless, you might say, by choice." So "welfare" conjured images of lazy black women taking drugs, drinking and having wanton sex, and federal support for housing intruded on personal choice. Right wing "think tanks" churned out Reagan lessons like shining but rancid butter. Hating your government and not paying taxes to it equated with both patriotism and practical self interest. Simultaneously, he extolled the virtues of the private sector, which would more efficiently meet peoples' basic needs. New right ideology sought to reverse the negative connotations that business had earned by screwing workers, consumers and the poor. Even in right wing literary criticism, the 1930s business villains of John Steinbeck and Clifford Odets gave way to capitalist-loving heroes in Ayn Rand's novels. Privatization became the White House leitmotif. In this atmosphere of privatizing public property, plastic water bottles appeared en masse. By the 1990s, corporations like Bechtel had even obtained the right to run the Bolivian water supply. Needless to say, the price of this basic need skyrocketed--as Bolivians discovered before forcing their government to undo the privatization in 2004. US blue-collar workers, however, remained under the rhetorical sway that convinced them to vote against their interests. Citizens who once automatically voted Democrat and trusted their government became skeptical and opted for Bush. Did their political choice connect to the notion that private water was safer than what flowed from the government regulated tap? At movie theaters 16 ounces of PepisCo's Aqua Fina cost 3.50. At my university, students pay 1.50 and keep one in their backpacks. Previously, they drank form pubic fountains in school corridors. Now those fountains appear as arcane sculpture. Students pay for a little convenience. Dining at people's homes, the hosts assure me that they filter tap water although city scientists have tested and declared it perfectly healthy. Behind this change of water choice hides a key political axiom of our time. Americans don't trust their government and pay private companies whose bottles don't reveal the bacterial and other germ content of their product. Globally, according to Tom Standage, bottled water is now a 46 billion > industry. (NY Times, op ed Aug 1, 2005) Yet, tests show that tasters can't distinguish between bottled and tap water. Standage also points to an Archives of Family Medicine report in which researchers from Cleveland found that nearly a quarter of the samples of bottled water had significantly higher levels of bacteria than tap water. The scientists concluded that "use of bottled water on the assumption of purity can be misguided." Indeed, most cities monitor tap water content far more extensively than making fortunes selling the bottles. New York City water was tested 430,600 times during 2004 alone. Ken Blomberg, who directs the Wisconsin Rural Water Association that offers less-expensive bottled municipal water for sale claims that almost 70 percent of commercially bottled water comes from a municipal tap. Omnipresent commercial water bottles symbolize more than a convenient hydration source. When I buy a bottle of transparent liquid and look at its label, I see a right wing cultural victory, one that will take more than liberal electoral victories to reverse. Will government prove again that it works? Will progressives have energy to re-educate this generation in lessons their grandparents learned during the New Deal? From Susan Spronk PhD Student Political Science York University Toronto, Canadá
Amnesty Report Confirms Forced Labour Widespread in Burma

Burma forced labour 'widespread'

Tens of thousands of ethnic minority civilians in Burma are being used as forced labourers by the military, according to Amnesty International. A report by the London-based human rights group says beatings and destruction of homes are also common. The findings are based on interviews with Burmese exiles in Thailand. Burma's (Myanmar) military junta has dismissed similar reports in the past, saying their sources are foreign-based opponents of the regime. 'Mass exodus' The report - Myanmar: Leaving Home - says the military uses people from ethnic > minorities to build roads and perform other forced labour. The situation is completely unacceptable, the army must stop living off the villagers Stephen Bowen Amnesty International. It said people were ordered to hand over their food and land, and also procure alcohol and young women for soldiers' entertainment. "Burmese soldiers are forcing a population that is already undernourished to hand over food, land and labour to feed the army," Amnesty International UK Campaigns director Stephen Bowen said. "Hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to flee Burma as a result." Amnesty urged Burma to immediately halt the practice of forced labour, describing the situation as "completely unacceptable". It adds that some villagers were caught between the Burmese military and rebel armies, with both sides demanding food and money from them. The report is based on interviews with more than 100 Burmese migrants in Thailand. Centre for Refugee Studies York University, 4700 Keele St. Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3
US Labour Movement Campaigns Against Wal-Mart

Labor Tries Political Tack Against Wal-Mart By ALAN MURRAY - The Wall Street Journal August 10, 2005 Is Wal-Mart good or evil? Sam Walton would be stunned to learn the company he founded in 1962, now ranks with the war in Iraq, prayer in the schools and gay marriage as one of the polarizing public issues of our times. For Mr. Walton, the formula for corporate virtue was simple: provide the widest array of goods at the lowest possible price. His company has done that with relentless success for decades, transforming the global economy and, in the process, becoming the world's largest retailer. But today, at 34 news conferences in 24 states across the U.S., a group called Wake-Up Wal-Mart will paint Sam Walton's company in black. The group -- started by the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, and backed by teachers' unions -- will call for a Back-to-School boycott of Wal-Mart stores, charging the Bentonville, Ark., company with paying poverty-level wages, providing skimpy benefits and flouting labor and discrimination laws. (Never mind the fact that it sells a large box of crayons for 25 cents.) It is tempting to dismiss this campaign as the last gasp of a dying labor movement. The AFL-CIO is splintering. And the effort by the UFCW, one of the break-off unions, is born of failure to organize a single Wal-Mart store in the U.S. despite years of effort. Shrugging off "Wake-Up Wal-Mart" would be a mistake, for two reasons. First, the breakup of organized labor may have a rejuvenating effect on unions like the UFCW, which will need to show success. Just as competition sharpens the focus of business, it is likely to do the same for labor. one that could increase its effectiveness. The unions have been losing on the shop floor for decades, and in recent years, their political clout has waned as well. Now they are borrowing a page from media-and-Internet-savvy groups that have scored surprising David-and-Goliath successes by attacking companies where they are most vulnerable: their public reputations. Whether it is Greenpeace going after the oil companies, Médecins Sans Frontières targeting pharmaceutical companies or the Rainforest Action Network banging on big banks, these scrappy "nongovernmental organizations" have shown that big, global corporations will go to surprising lengths to keep their images clean. The unions hope Wal-Mart will do the same. To run the new effort, the UFCW hired a refugee from Howard Dean's political campaign, Paul Blank, who operates out of cramped offices on Washington's K Street, where the walls are covered with maps and hand-drawn anti-Wal-Mart signs. Meantime, the Service Employees International Union, another break-off union, has established a rival site, Wal-Martwatch, with support from liberal groups including the Sierra Club and Common Cause. "We have no intention of trying to organize Wal-Mart workers," says SEIU President Andrew Stern. "The purpose is to change Wal-Mart's business model -- a business model that rewards shareholders and executives and doesn't reward workers." To date, there is no sign this strategy is hurting Wal-Mart's sales. Wake-Up Wal-Mart boasts 68,000 registered members -- roughly the same number of people who walk into a Wal-Mart every five minutes. Still, the company is clearly taking the threat seriously. As this newspaper reported last month, Chief Executive Lee Scott has become Wal-Mart's "defender-in-chief," abandoning its customary reclusiveness and devoting much of his time to promoting its virtues. While the unions are clearly his major opponent, his strategy seems to be to reach out to union allies -- Democratic politicians, teachers, environmental groups, women's groups and civil-rights groups -- in an attempt to isolate labor. "We listen to all of our critics, because a lot of times they have legitimate concerns," says Wal-Mart representative Mona Williams. "But the unions are not in that category." Will the anti-Wal-Mart campaign change the company's behavior? Some say it already has, leading it to pay more attention to environmental and workplace issues. My guess is the company also will have to take another look at its health-care policies. A number of states have reported that Wal-Mart tops the list of employers whose workers receive taxpayer-subsidized Medicaid coverage. While Wal-Mart says its workers go on public assistance at about the same rate as those of other retailers, its size -- and its supersize profits -- make it stand out. But here is what Wal-Mart won't do: let unions into the workplace. The company is convinced that would compromise its extraordinarily successful business model, based on an unrelenting push to cut costs. Wake-Up Wal-Mart may achieve many of its goals. But it won't unionize Wal-Mart.
5 Sweatshop Garment Factories Shut Down in San Francisco

BAY AREA 5 garment factories closed by state's new task force Coalition's sweep focused on unfair labor practices Five Bay Area garment factories were shut down and cited for allegedly violating state labor laws in a statewide sweep through 18 garment businesses Tuesday and Wednesday. The factories that were shut down saw their completed products confiscated by the Economic and Employment Enforcement Coalition, a new task force of state agencies. By Wednesday afternoon, the 50 normally whirring and clicking sewing machines had fallen silent at Sunrise K. Co., in the 900 block of Mission Street in San Francisco. The quiet was interrupted only by the rattling of mahjong tiles as some employees, hoping they would be able to work again, passed the time. Coalition members said most of the violators -- including some that might be operating under sweatshop conditions -- are in Southern California. "I wouldn't say sweatshops are nonexistent (in the Bay Area), but it's a small number," said Deanne Amaden, spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Labor. "It doesn't mean there aren't shops not in compliance. That's the reason we're looking for them now. Typically, it hasn't been as big a problem here as it has been in Los Angeles." Dean Fryer, spokesman for the State Labor Commission, said Bay Area garment factories numbered only in the hundreds, while there are thousands in Southern California. Only a fraction of factories in California operate as sweatshops, cramming workers into unsafe quarters, paying below minimum wage or violating other laws. The coalition consists of the state's Department of Industrial Relations Division of Occupational Safety and Health, the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, the Employment Development Department and the Contractors State License Board. The group, which premiered this week partly in commemoration of a raid 10 years ago that broke up a major sweatshop ring in Southern California, plans to work with the U.S. Department of Labor and other state and local agencies to conduct sweeps. On Aug. 2, 1995, state and federal agents found more than 70 Thai immigrants working in slavelike conditions in an El Monte (Los Angeles County) house. They worked 16-hour days seven days a week and lived 10 or more to a room, with no air conditioning. "That case really shed light and brought focus to the problem," Fryer said. "Ten years later, we've come to see how things have changed, what problems remain." The coalition dispatched three teams throughout the Bay Area this week to factories that appeared to be violating labor laws. Some had not filed documents called "certificates of registration" with the state, and others didn't have proof of workers' compensation insurance. In coming months, the coalition will focus on other industries historically plagued by unfair labor practices such as farming, construction and the restaurant business. The coalition didn't expect to find sweatshops among the businesses it targeted Wednesday, said Fryer. But it interviewed employees to make sure their employers abided by labor laws. Employees were asked whether they received at least the minimum wage, were paid overtime when it was due and received meal breaks as required by law. Investigators also scrutinized the companies' payroll records. Typical of the five companies that were cited, Sunrise K. Co. had been operating without state permission since July 18. The Division of Labor Standards Enforcement won't renew its operating certificate because the company owes back federal taxes of 20,000. Company owner Fion Lok was fined 2,700 for operating without the certificate. Lok asked for an extension as authorities seized about 500 finished pieces of clothing from her factory. "I wasn't given enough time to fix the license issue," Lok said through an interpreter. But Donna Dell, labor commissioner and chief of the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, said the company had 90 days' notice before its registration expired. Dell said Lok could appeal the citation and closure. The merchandise investigators confiscated this week will be held by the state for at least 60 days. If the companies don't come into compliance, it will be donated to a clearinghouse that will disperse the clothing to nonprofits. E-mail Cicero A. Estrella at Launches Toronto's First Social Shopping Card

A new initiative of, Toronto's home for socially responsible business, TorontotheBetter Shopping Cards are now available. For only $20, they give you access to discounts and specials at participating TorontotheBetter businesses. For more details about participating businesses and to get your own card, send return email to with the words Shopping Card in the subject line. - bringing together progressive shoppers and the businesses that serve them.
Canadian and Developing Country Farmers and NGOs Join Forces

Farmers Talk Trade in Ottawa Canadian and Developing Country Farmers and NGOs Join Forces story courtesy of Oxfam Canada May 17, 2005 OTTAWA. A new global alliance of farm groups and non-governmental organizations was born here today to defend family farmers and small-scale producers threatened by current and proposed World Trade Organization rules. "Farmers are facing hard times everywhere," said Marcel Groleau, member of the executive committee of the Dairy Farmers of Canada, one of the sponsoring organizations. "Unless producers' rights are acknowledged at the WTO, things will only get worse. Countries must retain the ability to pursue collective solutions, such as supply management." Representatives of farmers, farm groups and civil society organizations from Canada, Brazil, India, Senegal and Zimbabwe met yesterday to plot joint strategy to influence the trade talks underway in Geneva. They published a joint declaration and pledged to take the fight to their national governments. "At the WTO rich countries are pursuing an Iraq strategy on agriculture," said Rangarirai Machemedze the Southern and Eastern African Trade Information and Negotiations Institute (SEATINI) based in Zimbabwe. "First they disarm countries by reducing tariffs and outlawing orderly marketing. Then they bomb them with dumped subsidized goods. It is devastating farmers everywhere." Canada's supply management in dairy, poultry and eggs, and the Canadian Wheat Board are two farmer-friendly tools on the WTO chopping block, the groups said. Proposed rules also threaten ways in which developing country farmers cooperate to seek a fair return on their efforts, India's dairy cooperatives and joint marketing on Brazil's family farms, for example. "We small-scale farmers are pursuing viable solutions," said Ndiougo Fall, president of ROPPA, a network of farmers' organizations in West and Central Africa. "Trade rules must not tie our hands. The rules must allow countries to adopt the trade policies they need to fight hunger and poverty." The farmer and civil society groups insisted that WTO rules must also stop the dumping of subsidized exports and allow countries to defend themselves against dumping, by raising tariffs where necessary. "Governments everywhere have an obligation to ensure people's right to food," said Gauri Sreenivasan, trade policy analyst at the Canadian Council for International Cooperation, who spoke on behalf of the NGO coalition, Canadian Food Security Policy Group. "Trade rules must respect this human right, allowing for a diversity of approaches in local agriculture, rather than hamstring governments with a one-size-fits-all policy."

For further information, please contact:
Mark Fried, Oxfam Canada: 613-850-9723
Katia Gianneschi, CCIC: 613-241-7007, ext. 311
City Cycling Resources

"Cycling Trends and Policies in Canadian Cities" This is the prepublication version of a paper by John Pucher and Ralph Buehler which describes cycling programs and trends in major Canadian cities. The study finds that cities which invested in cycling facilities and programs have experienced increased bicycle use. It provides recommendations for planning strategies to further increase bicycle transportation. (Thanks to John and Ralph for permission to post it on our website).
Update and latest appeal to support the workers of Zanon

Happy MayDay to all! The Zanon workers of Neuquen in Argentina are at yet another turning point in their struggle, and the time is ripe for another explosion of international support for these brave workers and their inspiring achievements. They have saved their factory from closing, run it without bosses, created hundreds of meaningful democratic jobs, given back to their community, and energetically supported other workers' struggles throughout their country. Please go to the following web page right now, type in your name and email address, and send a message to local politicians with one click.
And now here's a short update: The Zanon workers and their families have recently and repeatedly been the victims of brutal attacks, torture, death threats and kidnappings. The attackers have used tactics familiar to Argentinians who remember the terror of the violent military dictatorship, right down to the chilling detail of kidnapping and torturing the wife of one of the workers in a green Ford Falcon -­ the very vehicles used by security forces responsible for 30,000 forced disappearances and countless other human rights violations. Two Zanon families have had to leave the city for their own safety. This was all clearly leading up to the climax of the legal battle for the factory. Last week, the judge opened up a process known as a 'cram-down': five days in which new or old owners could make bids to 'buy' the factory for a fraction of its real value. This could have triggered an immediate eviction order, and another crisis at the factory. But no one came forward. It is clear that the deep community support for the workers' struggle, both locally and internationally, has dissuaded those who want to take the factory away from the community that has defended and nurtured it. So now the process can move to the next stage: the judge should declare the bankruptcy once and for all, and hand legal control of the workplace to the Zanon workers and their cooperative (FaSinPat -­ short for Factories Without Bosses). This is not a permanent solution, but it will at least make the situation less precarious, and allow the workers to work without the constant threat of eviction. The only acceptable permanent solution is the definitive recognition of the workers' control of the factory, free of the previous owner's debt. As part of a global movement for social justice, we must defend this inspiring concrete example of those other worlds we know we can create. Let's build a network strong enough to defend FaSinPat!! To receive future updates, join the Zanon alert email list -­ to sign up send an email to with Zanon in the subject line.

Also, don't forget to sign the petition - more than 20,000 people worldwide have already signed:
And for more information, see the links below: Workers' control of FaSinPat continues despite attacks
Zanon Factory Worker Kidnapped, Tortured Press Release: Zanon workers in state of alert. judge opens way for vulture funds to take over the factory Zanon workers under attack Zanon, Argentina Death threats against occupying workers in Argentina Argentina's Factories: Avi Lewis Occupy, Resist, Produce: Worker Cooperatives in Buenos Aires Member of Worker-Run Factory in Argentina Was Kidnapped, Tortured Zanon The work of changing minds: Recovered factories in Argentina March in Defense of Zanon