By Kim Garraway
The Ryerson Students Against Sweatshops group and the Working Students’ Centre want action from the administration after it failed to implement a “No Sweat” code as promised last month.
Last semester, Director of Ancillary Services John Corallo promised a draft of a “No Sweat” policy would be “posted on the bookstore’s website&within the next three weeks.”
However, Ryerson is still waiting for that policy. In a letter to Linda Grayson, vice president administration and student affairs, dated Nov. 26, 2004, the two groups requested a committee of faculty, students and staff be formed to “develop an all-inclusive code of conduct that helps the university promote ethical labour practices, legitimate labour rights, and better working conditions.”
They also wanted a committee to ensure that the code would be followed by all companies licensed to manufacture products with the school trademark. The letter came about one month after jackets with the Ryerson logo were pulled off the racks at the bookstore.
Ram Sivapalan, a fourth-year ITM student, informed administration the jackets were made in Myanmar, a country that has been condemned by the International Labour Organization for using forced labour.
Sivapalan, who is a volunteer with Students Against Sweatshops, says, “As far as I know every other policy implemented by other post-secondary institutions involved a committee,” he said, listing off McMaster, the University of Toronto, and Trent.
Ryerson did not form a committee though. John Corallo, director of ancillary services, said “there hasn’t been a need. I was not aware that is what other universities do.” The code of conduct that is currently under legal review was drafted by Corallo.
But Corallo said “the (school’s) lawyer has something similar to what the students recommended.” “Ryerson is doing something that is really abnormal in terms of developing ‘No Sweat’ policies,” Sivapalan said.
“Linda and John won’t let us see the policy. I don’t understand why it’s so secretive.”