Campaign Successes So Far
Brands sign Bangladesh Safety Agreement
Thirty major brands agree to sign the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Accord following continued pressure from campaigners.
Following the Rana Plaza factory collapse in April, which killed over 1000 garment workers in Bangladesh, campaigners demanded that major brands sign a legally-binding fire and safety agreement for workers’ rights. As a result of this pressure, thirty companies signed the agreement, which includes independent inspections, worker-led health and safety committees and union access to factories in Bangladesh.
Calls continue for more brands to join, including GAP, who have so far refused to sign the agreement.
Adidas agree to pay $1.8 million in legally-owed redundancy pay after People & Planet students join an international campaign for adidas to ‘pay up’.
In 2011, 2800 Indonesian workers lost their jobs after the PT Kizone garment factory closed. Workers were also left without $3.4 million in legally-owed redundancy pay. All the companies that used the factory paid up immediately: except adidas, who refused to pay former workers $1.8 million in legally-owed redundancy pay.
In response to this, our sister organisation United Students against Sweatshops launched a campaign to ‘make adidas pay up’. In 2012, People & Planet joined the campaign, calling on adidas to pay former workers the money they were owed. In December 2012, students worldwide held a day of action outside adidas stores; US activists also convinced fifteen universities in the states to cut contracts with adidas during the course of the campaign. And just days before the victory, students held actions outside Footlocker stores across Europe, calling on Footlocker to drop adidas till they paid their former workers.
After two years of relentless campaigning by students and workers worldwide, adidas finally agreed to ‘pay up’ in April 2013.
Student campaigner Rachel Cavet said ‘this settlement demonstrates that when we act in solidarity with garment workers around the world we can win very real victories’. This news is further evidence that a determined and united campaign led by the workers can result in substantial results for those on the other end of our supply chains.
NUS Services and universities join the Worker Rights Consortium
Since 2009, we have been campaigning for universities and student unions to join the Worker Rights Consortium, an organisation that monitors garment factories for workers’ rights abuses. In 2011 the campaign had a massive victory when 220 student unions, through NUS Services Ltd, signed up to the Worker Rights Consortium.
The University of Sheffield was the first University in the UK to join in 2011, followed closely by Loughborough University, after People & Planet groups ran strong campaigns. Since then, 9 more universities have joined the movement for workers’ rights by affiliating to the WRC, bringing the UK total to 11. These are the first universities in the UK to join the 180 in the US and Canada that have joined. And we couldn’t have achieved this without the dedication of student campaigners nationwide.
Nike agree to pay $1.5 million legally mandated severance pay to Honduran workers after People & Planet joined the United Students Against Sweatshops campaign calling on Nike to ‘Just Pay It!.
In July 2010 our friends at United Students Against Sweatshops asked the People & Planet network to join their campaign against Nike. We sent a letter calling on Nike to pay the money, or we would ask our student network if they wanted to join the campaign. Nike backed down two weeks later, paying the money in full.
Fruit of the Loom Victory
People & Planet students starting campaigning on Fruit of the Loom as part of People & Planet’s Redress Education campaign in 2008, as the company, which supplies garments to universities, had violated its workers rights to organise and collectively bargain in a union. This was in partnership with United Students Against Sweatshops in the US, and the SITRZJERZEES Union in Honduras.
In November 2008, Fruit of the Loom’s subsidiary Russell Athletic illegally closed its Jerzees de Honduras factory shortly after workers formed a trade union. The closure left 1800 people with families to feed and provide for, jobless. Reports from the Worker Rights Consortium and the Fair Labour Association concluded that the motive in closing the factory was, at least in part, to stop workers organising for fair conditions.
Students in the UK, USA and Canada responded by campaigning in solidarity with workers by pressuring their universities who sold branded Fruit of the Loom and Russell Athletic garments to boycott the corporation. 9 UK Universities and over 100 universities worldwide boycotted Fruit of the Loom/Russell Athletic, making it the largest garment boycott campaign in history. Now the campaign has come to an end in a huge victory.
In November 2009, Fruit of the Loom’s subsidiary Russell Athletic, the largest employer in Honduras, agreed to meet People & Planet’s campaign demands. They have now taken the unprecendented steps of:
Reopening the Honduran factory
Re-hiring all 1200 workers who have been without jobs for 10 months or more
Paying $1.2 million in back pay and compensation to the workers that were dismissed
Thereby establishing the first company-recognised union in the Honduran garment industry
Ending prevention of unions organising in any of their other Honduran factories
Abolishing all non-independent ‘company unions’ they had set up in Honduras
Running a joint company-union freedom of association training programme with their employees in Honduras
Reyna Dominguez, one of the SITRAJERZEES union leaders called it ‘writing a new page of history’ and ‘the agreement we have with Russell/Fruit of the Loom is so important. It sets a precedent for the entire industry in Honduras, and is huge step towards justice for garment workers throughout the world.’ She added ‘without the support of the students we would not have achieved this historic victory’.
View details of the agreement
Fairtrade Status Successes
Students around the UK have been campaigning for their universities, schools and colleges to achieve Fairtrade Status since Oxford Brooks University claimed the title of First Fairtrade University in 2003. Since then a great wave of universities and colleges have taken up the challenge, which, according to the Fairtrade Foundation, is largely the result of People & Planet groups’ tireless campaigning. There are now almost 100 Fairtrade Universities and Colleges, each of which have met five goals which are
Buying and selling more Fairtrade products, ensuring they are sold at a fair price which gives small producers in the Global South a fair chance to compete, and funds development projects
Adopting Fairtrade policies, which require a year on year improvement in commitment to Fairtrade
Promoting Fairtrade in the local community with events every year
Teaching about trade injustice and Fairtrade in the curriculum
Forming Fairtrade steering groups which monitor progress and push for more improvements in commitment
Even more universities today are campaigning for Fairtrade Status, which continues to grow and grow thanks to the tireless work of People & Planet groups across the country, and our partners in the Fairtrade movement. People & Planet’s Buy Right campaign aims to scale up universities commitment to ethical purchasing across all product categories, ensuring that fair and pro-human rights purchasing is institutionalised across the higher education sector. People & Planet’s Wear Fair campaign aims for schools and colleges across the country to make all of their staff, student and sports uniforms contain Fairtrade cotton, and to put pressure on high street retailers to massively ramp up their supply of Fairtrade cotton school wear.