What's the Problem?
Universities and human rights
In November 2012 a factory fire in Bangladesh killed 112 garment workers. The fire could have been avoided, but for the corners cut by an owner desperate to please the global brands that supply our universities.
Universities buy from big brands, who in turn often outsource and subcontract out work to suppliers in the Global South. This means that brands can deny responsibility for the factories in which their products are actually made. Suppliers often crush workers’ attempts to improve their conditions and join trade unions, due to pressure from brands to cut costs and produce as much as possible.
This means that many workers face sweatshop conditions: 16 hour days, 3p per hour, physical and sexual abuse and dangerous conditions are all too common. Producers of raw materials, like farmers and miners, are also paid unfair prices for their products.
Multinational corporations make huge profits from universities, but how can universities know that human rights are being respected in the supply chains of the products that they buy? They can read suppliers’ codes of conduct, but companies often break their own codes of conduct as well as local laws and international labour standards.
We are focussing on one of the worst industries for workers rights abuses: clothing. We say enough is enough. Universities must ensure that workers’ rights are respected in the manufacture of their clothing. We’re calling on universities to join the Worker Rights Consortium, an independent, worker-led monitoring body investigating workers’ reports of abuse in university garment supply chains.
Order your enough is enough action cards today, and join the call for universities across the UK to join the Worker Rights Consortium.