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Students unite against sweatshops

By Joe Willetts

Monday 5 December 2016 Student Journalists

Universities around the UK from Surrey to Aberdeen have pledged to join People and Planet’s sweatshop free campaign.

On 7 October students used the day to raise awareness of the campaign by setting up stalls, handing out leaflets and hanging banners - all with the aim to get their universities to sign up to People and Planet’s electronics watch.

The campaign aims to raise awareness of sweatshop labour in university supply chains for electronic equipment and help to prevent breaches of workers’ rights within these companies.

As a result of the campaigns, nine universities have joined the electronics watch including the University of Edinburgh, Durham, Nottingham, Westminster and Swansea. The campaign’s strength has also prompted Transport for London to join the electronics watch.

The campaigns were deliberately scheduled on 7 October to coincide with World Day for Decent Work.

Aine O’Gorman, from Trinity College Dublin said ‘Every day we turn on our laptops and call our friends… we legitimise the unethical and grossly negligent working conditions millions of people are subjected to daily.

‘What we can do is listen to these workers, hear what they need and do what we can to help them in their struggle to achieve decent conditions.’

Environmental Sciences student, Vaughan Fleming, at the University of Sheffield said the technological advancements we take advantage of in the global north ‘should not be made on the backs of those abused my modern day slavery in the global south’.

University of East Anglia student Yali Banton-Health said certain electronic companies have a lot to answer for.

‘Public bodies like universities need to use their influence to change the industry. I’m attending the sweatshop free day of action to show my support for ethical consumer choices and lobby UAE to do the same.’

Since these demonstrations People and Planet have complied a list ranking every UK university for environmental and ethical performance which can be viewed here.


Journalist Joe

Hi I’m Joe, I’m currently in my second year of studying journalism at the University of Central Lancashire. I’ve written for and been published in a number of national publications in the past and I’m looking forward to writing for the large and diverse audience NUS attracts. I’m an aspiring political correspondent and take a lot of my inspiration from political journalists Adam Boulton and Nick Robinson. This ambition only exacerbated my desire to write for NUS as it brings important stories to the attention of students and challenges government legislation. During my time writing for NUS I aim to improve my journalism and investigation skills and produce stories using new angles and perspectives that are not reported in other national publications.