Media Releases

University of Toronto makes Bangladesh worker safety a condition in Trademark License Policy

August 4, 2015

Toron­to, ON — The Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to is tak­ing steps to safe­guard work­ers’ rights in Bangladesh appar­el fac­to­ries. Effec­tive July 1, 2015, all licensees who source, pro­duce or pur­chase col­le­giate appar­el for the U of T in Bangladesh must sign the Accord on Fire and Build­ing Safe­ty in Bangladesh.

The U of T is the first Cana­di­an uni­ver­si­ty with a Trade­mark Licens­ing pro­gram that sup­ports the Accord by requir­ing licensees with oper­a­tions in Bangladesh to become sig­na­to­ries.

“The U of T has long been com­mit­ted to ensur­ing that all uni­ver­si­ty appar­el is man­u­fac­tured under con­di­tions that are humane and free from exploita­tion,” said Anne Mac­Don­ald, Direc­tor of Ancil­lary Ser­vices. “Through our sup­port of the Bangladesh Accord, we have increased our effort to pro­tect the lives and safe­ty of work­ers in that coun­try.”

The Accord is an inde­pen­dent agree­ment designed to make all gar­ment fac­to­ries in Bangladesh safe work­places. It emerged as a par­tic­u­lar­ly mean­ing­ful and rig­or­ous ini­tia­tive fol­low­ing sev­er­al hor­rif­ic appar­el fac­to­ry tragedies in 2012 and 2013, includ­ing the Rana Plaza build­ing col­lapse, in which more than 1,100 peo­ple died. So far, more than 200 inter­na­tion­al com­pa­nies with man­u­fac­tur­ing oper­a­tions in Bangladesh have signed on to the Accord.

The U of T’s sup­port of the Accord will require licensees who con­duct busi­ness in Bangladesh to sign a let­ter acknowl­edg­ing the Accord require­ment. Licensees that do not sup­port the Accord will not be renewed.

“By requir­ing licensees to sign the Bangladesh Accord, the Uni­ver­si­ty is tak­ing a vital and effec­tive step to pro­tect the lives of work­ers mak­ing U of T logo cloth­ing,” said Scott Nova, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of the Work­er Rights Con­sor­tium, an inde­pen­dent labour rights mon­i­tor­ing orga­ni­za­tion with whom U of T’s Trade­mark Licens­ing pro­gram has been affil­i­at­ed since the incep­tion of the pro­gram.

The University’s Trade­mark Licens­ing Pol­i­cy, estab­lished in 2000, was insti­tut­ed to ensure that mer­chan­dise bear­ing the university’s offi­cial marks is man­u­fac­tured under humane, non-exploita­tive con­di­tions. The Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to was the first Cana­di­an uni­ver­si­ty to have such a pol­i­cy, and has also exer­cised lead­er­ship in its imple­men­ta­tion of this pol­i­cy over the last 15 years.


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