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6. Workers Rights

People & Planet will assess the commitment and action a university makes with regards to the workers rights of:

  • University staff.
  • Farmers and producers of crops in university global supply chains.
  • Workers involved in the manufacturing of goods for universities.

This reflects our belief that workers rights are a core issue in ethical procurement and we have set out to reward best practice across a range of approaches.

A Living Wage University

1. Is the University accredited by the Living Wage Foundation as a Living Wage employer?

Score 25%


  • University may have full Living Wage accreditation or working on phased implementation with the Living Wage Foundation by 1 August 2017.
  • A list of universities will be accessed from the Living Wage Foundation.
  • 1st April 2016 saw the introduction of a new statutory minimum wage for over 25’s, which the government is referring to as the ‘national living wage’ (NLW). This is not to be confused with the Living Wage which is a voluntary payment by employers at a higher rate than the NLW, and which applies to all working adults above the age of 18. Read this full briefing on the differences between the NLW and Living Wage.
  • We will not be awarding scores to collegiate universities where some of the colleges are Living Wage accredited unless the central university is accredited.

Further info from Unison: UNISON Living Wage Campaign

A Fairtrade University

Fairtrade is about better prices, decent working conditions and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers. Products certified with a Fairtrade Mark means that the Fairtrade ingredients in the product have been produced by small-scale farmer organisations or plantations that meet Fairtrade social, economic and environmental standards.

It is an alternative approach that is based on partnership; one between those who grow our food and those that consume it. Fairtrade is 50% owned by producers. Fairtrade is a global movement with a strong and active presence in the UK, represented by the Fairtrade Foundation.

The Fairtrade Foundation is an independent non-profit organisation that licenses use of the FAIRTRADE Mark on products in the UK in accordance with internationally agreed Fairtrade standards.
People & Planet recognise the importance of an independent and external verification process. We do not agree that schemes funded by corporations are able to provide this.

2. Is the institution a Fairtrade University, accredited by the Fairtrade Foundation?

Score 15%


  • Information for this criteria is provided directly by the Fairtrade Foundation and all institutions awarded or re-awarded Fairtrade University status by 1 August 2017 will receive full marks;
  • Universities that operate under a collegiate system are able to apply for Fairtrade University status in isolation to the associated colleges if the central university fulfills all requirements outlined by the Fairtrade Foundation. The university will be acknowledged as a Fairtrade University and will be awarded full points for this criteria – however – the associated university colleges will not automatically be awarded with Fairtrade status and will be required to apply independently.

Signpost: Fairtrade Universities website


Monitoring and reforming the university supply chain


Across the global south workers are collectively struggling for better conditions and pay. Frequently these workers face violations of their human rights. While universities procure garments one of universities biggest areas of spend is ITC. The electronics industry is increasing outsourcing it’s production to low-wage countries, unions and NGOs have been monitoring the human and labour rights situation in the sector. Over the last few years, numerous research reports coming from these networks, as well as the bout of suicides and suicide attempts at electronics factories in China, have drawn the world’s attention to gross labour violations, including: health and safety problems, no living wage, forced overtime, abuse of vulnerable worker groups, etc. For these reasons People & Planet has prioritised work being done by universities to reform this area of their supply chains.

In order to reform their supply chains universities need to make sure workers rights are embedded into contracts, appropriate monitoring in partnership with civil society groups on the ground is resourced and institutions are able to combine their leverage to negotiate improved conditions with ITC brands.

Electronics Watch is an independent monitoring organisation working to achieve respect for labour rights in the global electronics industry through socially responsible public purchasing in Europe. It combines it affiliates collective ITC purchasing power to reform public sector supply chains. The current affiliated organisations ITC spend cover contracts worth ‎€1.3billion and incudes the founding members the University of Edinburgh, London Universities Purchasing Consortium, Advanced Procurement for Universities and Colleges (Scotland), University of Leeds, Nottingham Trent University, Durham University, University of Aberdeen, University Medical Centre Utrecht, University of Leicester, Utrecht City Council, Transport for London, University of Barcelona and Barcelona City Council.

3. Are the university ITC supply chains covered by Electronics Watch

Score -max 40%

University ITC supply chains can be covered in the following ways:

  • University that is a member of LUPC or SUPC but has not directly affiliated. 10%
  • University is directly affiliated to Electronics Watch. 30%
  • University that is a member of LUPC or SUPC AND has directly affiliated.40%
  • University that is a member of APUC. 40%

Information for this criteria is provided directly by Electronics Watch and all institutions affiliated by 1 August 2017 will receive full marks.


Electronics Watch website

chinalabourwatch.org – produce detailed reports on the electronics industry and other industries in China

sacom.hk – Universities based group, producing reports and information on worker rights abuses in China

How to affliate to electronics watch

Email electronics watch

4. Is the university reforming it’s supply chain in another product category as identified by the university.

Score 20%

The university is working with an organisation credible to the workers rights community associated with the identified product category area.

Actions might include;

  • Mapping the supply chain and manufacturing locations of university suppliers
  • Supporting civil society organisations to organise systems inside the factories
  • Supporting civil society organisations to conduct investigations which include site visits and off-site worker interviews.


These processes should be conducted and managed by organisations free from corporate influence at board or management level.

People & Planet will check the university website for details of the work they are conducting with this specified organisation - online details should outline the university’s involvement and actions taken and / or committed to by the university.

NB: Neither the Net Positive Student programme nor the Flexible Framework guide to sustainable procurement can score against this part of the criteria as there is no evidence of  the following activity within the scope of the project:

  • Supporting civil society organisations to organise systems inside the factories
  • Supporting civil society organisations to conduct investigations which include site visits and off-site worker interviews.