Saturday, 15 March 2008

York Students Win No-Sweatshop Commitment with 45-Hour Sit-In

York Students Win No-Sweatshop Commitment with 45-Hour Sit-In:
Students' Victory Marks International Women's Day

TORONTO, March 8 /CNW/ - This morning, York University President Mamdouh
Shoukri met with students who had been holding a sit-in outside of his office
since 2:00 p.m. on Thursday. Shoukri committed to introduce a no-sweatshop
policy for York University by April 2008. "The policy will be at least as
progressive as U of T's and other universities', if not more," said Mamdouh
Shoukri, President of York University. "If other universities have had this
policy and withstood the test of time, I don't see why we can't do it too."

The York University president's commitment is the result of a 45 hour
sit-in by members of the York Sustainable Purchasing Coalition and their supporters.
The Coalition is a student group that has been lobbying York University for a
no-sweatshop policy for the past three years. "We are exhausted but pleased
with this commitment," said Terrance Luscombe, a York University student and
member of the Sustainable Purchasing Coalition. "York students don't want our
university to condone the use of sweatshop labour and we don't understand why
it took so long for university administrators to join the 21st Century and
make this simple commitment."

The Sustainable Purchasing Coalition held a rally Thursday asking the
university to adopt students' proposed 'no-sweat' policy. Immediately
following the rally, the students attempted to deliver a petition containing
more than 1,000 signatures in support of a no-sweatshop policy to President
Shoukri. When they were told the president was unavailable to see them, the
students decided to stay. The sit-in continued with students camping out for
two nights. "This is an excellent way to mark the 100th anniversary of
International Women's Day," said Kelly Holloway, President of the York
University Graduate Students' Association. "Unfortunately millions of workers
around the world, and even in North America, are still paid appallingly low
wages and denied basic workplace rights. We look forward to seeing York's
no-sweatshop policy in place by next month."

International Women's Day commemorates the efforts of 15,000 immigrant
women garment workers who demonstrated on the streets of New York City in
1908 to demand fair pay, shorter work hours, an end to child labour and the
right to vote.

A second meeting between representatives of the Sustainable Purchasing
Coalition and the president of York University will take place on Monday.

For further information: Terrance Luscombe, York Sustainable Purchasing
Coalition, (647) 834-3899; or Kelly Holloway, President, York University
Graduate Students' Association, (647) 886-0729


W. Greg Taylor said...

Here's an update from Simon Granovsky-Larsen:

"Passing on an informal email here, press release to follow...


The President just met with us (yes on a Saturday!) and made a commitment
that he will see that York adopts an adequate no-sweat policy in line with
other universities like U of T and Ryerson. We have another meeting on
Monday with the President, VP Students and legal counsel to proceed on this
matter. Our efforts have succeeded!

We thank everyone who have supported us during this time. We hope that the
Admin is now clear on the fact that this is a serious matter to us and makes
good on their words. We will see that this happens.

We are ending the sit-in and going home!

Press release is forthcoming."

Anonymous said...

Students take charge! Time to make these educational apparatchiks do the right thing.

W. Greg Taylor said...

Another update, this one from Alywin Lo of the Maquila Solidarity Network:

"York University on board with No Sweat at last
Three years of campaigning have finally culminated in victory at York
University. A 45-hour sit-in by students convinced York University
President Mamdouh Shoukri to commit to introducing a No Sweat
licensing policy by April. If the administration follows through with
Shoukri’s promise, the number of Canadian universities with No Sweat
policies will swell to 17.

The victory is especially significant for bringing Canada’s third
largest university into the fold of schools with No Sweat policies."