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WELCOME TO THE ARCHIVE (1994-2014) OF THE MAQUILA SOLIDARITY NETWORK. For current information on our ongoing work on the living wage, women's labour rights, freedom of association, corporate accountability and Bangladesh fire and safety, please visit our new website, launched in October, 2015:

No Sweat Implementation

A No Sweat policy is intended to produce positive results with a minimum amount of burden on the public institution for administration and enforcement; the onus is on the apparel companies to provide evidence that they are complying with the policy.

Under the model No Sweat policy, companies - and NOT the public institution - bear responsibility for carrying out and paying for factory monitoring, as well as for third-party investigations of reported policy violations.

Once the No Sweat policy is adopted, companies that provide clothing for your institution will be required to sign an agreement to abide by the conditions and requirements set out in the policy. This agreement applies to all manufacturing facilities, including those not directly owned by the company. The institution is only responsible to oversee the process.

Essential elements of a No Sweat policy

The conditions and requirements set our in your No Sweat policy should include:

1. Compliance with Local Labour Laws and International Standards

Companies must ensure that the workplaces where their products are made are complying with local labour laws and the minimum labour standards of the International Labour Organization (ILO), as outlined in the "Model No Sweat municipal purchasing policy."

If the garment manufacturer out-sources some or all of its production, the No Sweat policy provisions should also apply to those supply factories.

A union label or evidence that workers making municipal products are represented by democratic unions that engage in free collective bargaining should be regarded as substantial proof of compliance with the No Sweat policy.

Note that the new No Sweat purchasing criteria will have to be mentioned on the tender or bidding request for apparel products. Consensus among stakeholders will have to be reached on an appropriate compliance phase-in timeline. You may want to propose a "grandfather" clause for existing contracts during a transition period, encouraging public disclosure of factory locations for existing suppliers, and compliance with the No Sweat policy for all new contracts after the policy is adopted

2. Public Disclosure of Factory Locations

A No Sweat policy should require clothing suppliers to report to the public institution and the public the names and addresses of all workplaces where that institution's clothing is being made. Ideally, factory information should be available to the public through a website. A less desirable option is for that information to be available upon request. Your No Sweat policy should also include a provision requiring suppliers to provide the name and address of a new supply factory as soon as production has started in that facility.

As No Sweat universities have shown, suppliers often oppose public disclosure of factory locations when policies are being developed, but cooperate with those same policies once they are adopted. In fact, some major apparel and sportswear companies are now marketing themselves as more transparent companies because of their willingness to disclose the locations of factories manufacturing their products. For more information, click here.

3. Factory Monitoring

School boards, universities and municipal governments do not have the resources to carry out factory monitoring themselves, nor should they be expected to do so. Suppliers should be responsible for monitoring their supply factories, and preference in granting new contracts should be given to suppliers that use acceptable third-party verifiers and are willing to publicly disclose the findings of third-party audits as part of their annual reports.

4. Annual Reports

Suppliers should be required to provide annual, public reports on their progress in achieving compliance with the No Sweat policy. Reports should include information on the supplier's monitoring and verification program; the name of the third-party auditing organization, if they are using one; the findings of monitoring and third-party audits; and a summary of corrective action taken.

A number of major US brands are currently providing this level of public reporting through the Fair Labor Association (FLA) website: While few if any of these companies are municipal or provincial suppliers, these reports provide useful examples of transparent reporting.

The Worker Rights Consortium goes further, publicly disclosing full reports from factory investigations of university suppliers. Visit:

5. Responding to Complaints

The school board, university, municipal or provincial government should create a mechanism to receive third-party complaints of violations of the No Sweat policy. Suppliers should be required to respond to all legitimate complaints with verified evidence that the violations have either not occurred or corrective action has been taken.

If a third-party factory audit is required to verify whether the complaint is justified and/or whether corrective action has been taken, the public institution should have the right to approve the auditing organization. Those findings should also be available to the complainant and to the public.

In some cases, such as reports of violations of workers' legal rights in Canada, the institution and the company could ask that a government inspector from the Ministry of Labour carry out a factory audit. In other cases, they could agree upon a third-party organization to investigate reported abuses. The company, not the public institution, should pay for the investigation and the results should be made available to the institution, people making the complaint, and the public.

Some Canadian universities with No Sweat policies are beginning to discuss how they could work together to enforce these policies and investigate complaints. In the future, your institution might decide to work together with other municipal governments, school boards, and universities to respond to complaints of violations of No Sweat policies. This approach makes sense since many companies supply a number of cities, school boards and universities.

6. Corrective Action

If your No Sweat policy is effective, you will no doubt discover violations of local labour laws and/or ILO standards. Few, if any, factories are completely free of violations. A No Sweat policy will give your school board, university or municipal government the mandate to require suppliers to take corrective action when violations are identified and to provide verifiable evidence that the violations are being eliminated.

Manufacturers should be given sufficient time and opportunities to achieve compliance. The supplier should provide the public institution with a corrective action plan, including reasonable deadlines.

Cutting off a supplier is the last resort when serious problems persist and the supplier is unwilling or unable to correct them.