An expression of concern has been submitted to McGill’s administration, concerning the unversity’s investments and professional relationship with Dollarama.
The submission was supported by a 16 page report describing the “grave social injury” Dollarama is committing against its warehouse workers. Attached was a petition with signatures from 29 academic staff, 29 support staff, 101 Alumni, 143 students, and 22 other members of the Montreal community.
The report, authored by the McGill Corporate Accountability Project (MCAP), explains the recent history of efforts on behalf of McGill staff and students to assist workers’ in improving conditions in Dollarama warehouses. The submissioned recognized McGill’s several financial and professional ties to Dollarama, that it to force it to act against the company’s treatment of their workers’.
These institutional connections include McGill’s $3.3 million holding of Dollarama equity; its establishment of a Wellness hub through Rossy family – Dollarama’s founders- donations; its use of the Rossy name in McGill’s naming of the Wellness hub; Lawrence Rossy’s reception of an honorary degree from McGill; and Dollarama board member Gregory David’s former presence on the Law Faculty Advisory Board and recognition as a 2017 alumni honouree.
The report outlines Dollarama’s three major acts of grave social injury: first to their workers’ incomes, second to their workers’ employment status, and third, to their health and safety. The report concludes, reiterating the petition’s demands:
The testimonies by Dollarama workers that have been copied above should serve as a valuable insight into these warehouse conditions. Considering the risks that face working people, particularly migrants, when denouncing their former or present employers, they should not be taken lightly, nor should the use of descriptors such as “slavery” or “deplorable.” It is important for McGill to do justice, as an investor, to these workers and not attempt to undermine or delegitimate their lived experiences. Their testimonies, as well as the statistics, news reports, and studies surveyed above, are our only window into the social injury being committed within Dollarama warehouses. In light of these realities, and McGill’s financial and professional ties to Dollarama, the university should commit to the following demands:
1) That the Office of Investments file a shareholder proposal at Dollarama’s Annual General Meeting of Shareholders (the “AGM”). This proposal should, in the least, request that Dollarama prepare a report outlining how it assesses and mitigates the human rights risks arising out of its use of third-party staffing agencies for its warehouse and distribution centre staffing needs.
2) The Office of Investments adopt a corporate engagement strategy with Dollarama, collaborating with the Immigrant Workers Centre (IWC) and The Association des travailleurs et travailleuses d’agences de placements (ATTAP), with the following goals:
a) To promote a healthy and safe warehouse work environment within the company, whose conditions can continuously accommodate demands and concerns coming directly from warehouse workers
b) To secure Dollarama’s warehouse workers jobs as employees hired directly by Dollarama
c) To promote permanent pay raises for Dollarama warehouse workers in acknowledgement of the risks inherent in their work and Dollarama’s rising profits and in line with demands from the IWC, ATTAP, and workers themselves.
The expression of concern will be studied by a sub-committee of McGill’s Board of Governors. The committee is mandated to undertake a serious review of all petitions and reports, meeting strict criteria met by MCAP, that are sent their way. They will then make recommendations to the McGill Board of Governors. These recommendations are typically accepted.
In the past, the sub-committee has voted against a petition from Divest McGill for the university to drop its fossil fuel investments. The sub-committee, instead, recommended a less robust policy of “decarbonization” that was accepted by the university.
Art work was done by Chris Robertson of La Presse du Chat Perdu.