Plymouth Sweatshop Free - Petition Hand-in During Lockdown!

By: Alyssa Carrington
Photograph of two students holding a banner which reads "Esc from exploitation" outside the University of Plymouth

It’s been two years since the People & Planet Society at University of Plymouth launched their Sweatshop Free Campaign to tackle supply chain injustice on campus and beyond, but sadly the University of Plymouth has not yet taken the important and necessary step of affiliating to Electronics Watch.

For those of you who don’t know, Electronics Watch is an independent, non-profit labour monitoring organisation with the aim of creating a world where all workers in the electronics industry are paid appropriately and treated with respect. Today, on International Workers Day, we delivered a petition to the University of Plymouth calling on the university to affiliate to Electronics Watch - we had over 1,000 signatures!

Like everyone else at the moment, we’re having to adjust to campaigning under lockdown so whilst it may not be the petition hand-in we had envisioned (fancy dress and theatrics!), we still managed to go ahead with an email to university management and a short video showing our reactions to the petition milestone.

We really hope that the University of Plymouth will reconsider it’s position on Electronics Watch and affiliate as soon as possible, all universities are required to be transparent when it comes to the supply chains that it supports; and we believe that it is possible that the technology that we use on campus has been made by those experiencing modern-day slavery. We have an ethical duty to do all that we can to improve supply chains and eradicate forced labour. No one in 2020 should be working for next-to-nothing wages, and our university has a huge role to play in changing that!

Since Electronics Watch was founded in 2013, almost half of all U.K. universities have signed up, meaning that all the electronics supplied to those universities are now monitored for labour rights abuses in their supply chains. The more universities that partner with Electronics Watch, the more the monitoring organisation will be able to do to tackle modern-day slavery in the electronics industry! It would also improve the reputation of our university and help us move up the People & Planet University League.

According to the International Labour Organisation, 25 million people of all ages across the world are forced into some sort of labour, and we believe that universities have a responsibility to ensure that they aren’t contributing to the problem. We would like to thank everyone who supported us and signed the petition over the last two years, and want to reaffirm our commitment to seeing the University of Plymouth affiliating to Electronics Watch as soon as possible, lockdown or no lockdown.

Until we win,

Plymouth People & Planet

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