In January 2009, two factories in Honduras closed, leaving nearly two thousand workers without severance pay. These factories produced goods for Nike, the largest sportswear company in the world, but Nike denied any responsibility towards the workers. This could have been the whole story, but workers and students around the globe have been working together to achieve a groundbreaking victory against corporate power. After a year of campaigning, the Honduran workers were awarded cash compensation of $1.54 million.
The growing links between workers and students across national borders were central to this success. The Worker Rights Consortium (WRC) connected the disgruntled workers with US students by preparing a report on the situation, which they sent to more than a hundred American universities. United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) mounted a huge pressure campaign telling Nike to “Just Pay It!” with waves of protests held outside Nike stores. Students at universities across the US got involved with actions and petitions. The student campaign went international when People & Planet got involved.
“It was less than a year ago that students from People & Planet and United Students Against Sweatshops came together to campaign across border in solidarity with Honduran Fruit of the Loom garment workers… Students are at the forefront of the anti-sweatshop movement, fighting in solidarity with workers for a world free of exploitation.” Student campaigner Matt Mcmullen