Tuesday, 7 November 2006

Tell Roots Canada to Raise the Bar on Labour Standards

"Play Fair at the Olympics" Campaign
Maquila Solidarity Network
April 6, 2004

An overwhelming number of concerned consumers have responded to the "Play Fair at the Olympics" campaign launched last month calling on the Olympic movement and sportswear companies to take action to ensure their products are made under humane working conditions. Over the past four weeks, Canada's official Olympic uniform supplier, Roots Canada, has received over 1,000 letters and e-mails asking the company to adopt a credible code of conduct and a transparent factory monitoring system. MSN would like to thank everyone who took part in this e-mail and letter-writing action. In response to these demands, Roots has released a "Workplace Code of Conduct" and announced that it has hired a US-based commercial auditing firm, Cal Safety Compliance Corporation, to carry out factory audits. Unfortunately Roots has set the bar too low for its suppliers when it comes to labour standards. The company's new Code of Conduct falls far short of the core labour rights set out by the International Labour Organization (ILO) in several areas. The code allows discrimination based on race or gender where it is permitted under local law. It also sets the minimum working age at 14, whereas the ILO sets it at 15 and allows only certain developing countries to lower their minimum age to 14. The Roots code does not provide for payment of a living wage, nor does it prohibit excessive hours of compulsory overtime. The most serious omission is the fundamental rights of workers to freedom of association and to bargain collectively, which are not even mentioned in the code. Even companies like Nike and adidas-Salomon, both Olympic sportswears suppliers have made stronger commitments to workers' rights in their codes of conduct. They also provide some information to consumers of the results of at least some factory audits, whereas Roots provides no information on the audit process or results. Why is Canada's official Olympic clothing supplier doing so much less? It's time for Roots to raise the bar on labour standards for its suppliers.


Please join us in calling on Roots Canada to raise the bar and provide more information to the public. Roots should bring its code in line with ILO core labour rights conventions, and also add provisions requiring payment of a living wage, a regular work week of no more than 48 hours, no forced overtime, and no workplace abuse or harassment. Roots must also provide the Olympic movement and the general public with verifiable assurances that these standards are being met by developing a transparent monitoring system. (See sample letter below.)

Send your letters to:
Marshall Myles, CEO, Roots Canada Ltd.
Fax: 416-781-3259
E-mail: rperkins@roots.com

To read the Roots Code of Conduct, visit: http://www.roots.com/new_canada/html/about_us/RootsCodeofConduct.pdf

To contact Roots Canada:
Marshall Myles, CEO Roots Canada
1162 Caledonia Rd
Toronto, Ontario

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