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The Columbia Journal
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Columbia Journal logoVolume Nine, Number Two    April 2004    www.columbiajournal.ca

    Vancouver Adopts “No Sweat” Purchasing Policy

    Marco Procaccini
    The Vancouver city council has moved forward with development of a sustainable and ethical procurement policy to ensure all items purchased by the city are manufactured or grown in accordance with established international codes of conduct regarding wages, workplace health and safety, forced labour, child labour and freedom of association.

    Approved unanimously, a resolution moved by COPE Councilors Tim Louis and Raymond Louie requires staff to report back on implementation, costs and logistics of a policy on preferential purchasing from ethically respon-sible companies within two months, for implementation by the end of 2004.
    The resolution moves the city closer to fulfilling ethical purchasing com-mitments made in the final 2010 Winter Olympic Games bid book.

    According to experts, sweatshop practices continue to spread throughout the garment manufacturing industry, undermining interna-tional human rights guarantees and threatening the working conditions of manufacturing workers in the City of Vancouver.

    The BC Ethical Purchasing Group, a coalition of organizations and individuals in British Columbia, including Oxfam Canada, the Canadian Labour Congress, the Vancouver and District Labour Council, the New Westminster and District Labour Council, the Maquila Solidarity Network, and student, staff and faculty human rights activists at Simon Fraser University, Langara College and the University of BC, continue to urge public bodies to find ways to eliminate public dollars supporting labour abuses.

    Vancouver residents appear to have greeted the decision with sup-port and even enthusiasm. Despite repeated corporate media attacks and internal differences over issues such as the introduction of slot machines and the proposed Richmond Airport Vancouver Skytrain line, COPE continues to enjoy a huge majority of support from Vancouver residents, polling as high as 70 per cent approval.

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