University set to improve factory conditions abroad
The University of Sheffield and its Students’ Union have become the first UK joint signatories to adopt a code of conduct under a Worker Rights Consortium (WRC) agreement.
The WRC is a movement that collaborates with workers, non-governmental organisations, colleges and universities to improve the conditions of workers producing clothing for the higher education sector.
In an official signing ceremony today, the University agreed to the requirements needed for affiliation with WRC. This means that the University will adopt a manufacturing code of conduct that addresses workers’ rights issues in contracts with all applicable suppliers, including:
• wages, hours of work, overtime compensation
• freedom of association (the right to unionise)
• workplace safety and health, compliance with local laws
• child labour, forced labour
• harassment and abuse in the workplace, discrimination and women’s rights
Professor Rebecca Hughes, Pro Vice-Chancellor International at the University said: "We are delighted to be the first university affiliating with the Worker Rights Consortium in partnership with our Students’ Union. We feel it is of paramount importance that our suppliers in the UK and abroad adhere to a code of conduct that improves the lives of their workers by protecting their human rights. We hope that our example will inspire other institutions to do the same.”
Thom Arnold, President of Sheffield Students’ Union, said: "There is a strong movement within the student body which embraces ethical and social responsibility as core values. I’m proud that we’re leading the way within the HE sector by becoming the first joint university and student’s union to sign up to the Worker Rights Consortium in the UK."
In the UK, People & Planet, the largest student network in Britain campaigning for human rights, protection of the environment and an end to world poverty, have coordinated the campaign for universities to affiliate to the WRC.
Beth Tichborne, Buy Right Campaigner for People and Planet, said: "Every day workers making garments for universities are beaten, abused, unpaid, and denied their basic human right to unionise. The Worker Rights Consortium is a means of doing something about these conditions.
"We commend the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Students’ Union for joining the 180 US universities that have affiliated to the WRC. To be the first university in the UK to do so shows that Sheffield is a pioneering, socially conscious university who takes its responsibilities to people seriously. Sheffield has put itself ahead of the pack in doing something about garment workers' conditions. They are acting to stop human rights abuses in the supply chain and we call on other universities to show that they care too.
"This pioneering step is a testament to the hard work of Sheffield People and Planet campaigners like Luke Gibson, Ruth Fox and others, as well as to the University staff, Students’ Union president and sabbatical team.”
For more information on the Worker Rights Consortium, visit:
For more information on People and Planet, visit: