For immediate release
July 8, 2005
416-510-0887 ext. 230 or [email protected]
Toronto – UNITE HERE Canada filed a petition today with the Canadian International Trade Tribunal (CITT) requesting that they enact available mechanisms to limit a huge deluge of imports from China, which threatens Canada’s sixth largest manufacturing sector. This unprecedented action follows the release earlier this week of a report detailing the surge of imports and represents the first time that workers and a labour union have initiated such action at the CITT.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) system of quotas regulating the global apparel and textile industry expired on January 1, 2005, ending a 40-year old regulatory system and sending shockwaves in the global apparel industry. In Canada, clothing imports from China have jumped 40% in just four months. In specific categories, the numbers are staggering. For example, China imported into Canada 228% more women’s pants than during the same four-month period last year. That is 11.5-million more pairs of pants. China imported 3.6-million more skirts during the first four months of 2005, an increase of 216%. Imports of men’s pants during the same period rose 163%.
When China entered the World Trade Organization in 2001, it agreed that WTO member countries could limit the growth of clothing imports from China to as low as 7.5% after the phase-out of quotas if such imports threatened to disrupt markets. Other large markets such as the U.S. and the European Union have enacted the safeguard mechanisms, as have countries such as Turkey, Argentina, Peru and Mexico.
“Now is the time for the Canadian government to act,” Alex Dagg, Canadian Director of UNITE HERE said. “14,000 jobs-20% of the industry-have been wiped out in the last sixteen months. Thousands more jobs, employing mostly women and newcomers to Canada, remain at risk while the government has yet to take decisive action and enact already available mechanisms to ensure fairer trade policy.”
The petition is being filed by UNITE HERE, as well as garment workers Carlos Costa in Montreal; Radika Quansoon in Ontario and Christina Ling in Vancouver. The petition, along with a full report detailing recent import data, are available upon request from UNITE HERE.
UNITE HERE is a union representing over 50,000 members in Canada and more than 440,000 people across North America. UNITE HERE’s diverse membership includes many recent immigrants and a high proportion of women, representing workers in: hotels; casinos; apparel, textile and general manufacturing; apparel distribution centers; apparel retail; industrial laundries; food service; airport concessions; and restaurants. UNITE HERE was formed on July 8, 2004, from the merger of UNITE (formerly the Union of Needletrades, Textiles and Industrial Employees) and HERE (Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union). UNITE HERE’s website is www.unitehere.ca
Click here for more information.