Category: NUS Wales Policy
Identifying the issue
The global electronics industry is a high-risk industry for modern slavery. The International Labour Organization states around 25 million people internationally are in forced labour. 1 in 4 victims of modern slavery are children. Human and labour rights abuses in the electronics industry are consistently revealed, including Foxconn worker suicides and Samsung union-busting. Each university spends several million pounds on electronic goods every year, exposing them to modern slavery, and potentially unknowingly contributing to human and labour rights abuses across the globe. Electronics Watch (EW) the only independent, worker-driven labour rights monitoring organisation working internationally in the electronics industry. EW supports public purchasers like universities to use their purchasing power to ensure that electronics supply chains are free of modern slavery and other abuses against workers. Currently, only one Welsh University (Swansea University), is affiliated to EW. Students across Wales, including at UWTSD, Cardiff University and Aberystwyth University have launched Sweatshop Free campaigns to tackle sweatshops within their university supply chains by pushing their universities to affiliate to EW. Two Welsh SU’s (UWTSD and Aberystwyth) have already passed a Sweatshop Free motion.
What position should NUS Wales take?
NUS Wales should speak out against modern slavery, recognising the exposure of electronics supply chains to this issue, an industry that universities purchase significant amounts from. NUS Wales should recognise the value of Electronics Watch offering viable solutions that Welsh Universities can directly contribute to in response to an international problem. Welsh universities affiliating to EW is both valuable and necessary. The Higher Education Purchasing Consortium of Wales, has 6 Welsh university full members, affiliating to EW on behalf of its members would have a significant impact on the Welsh higher education sector proactively tackling modern slavery. 3 UK University purchasing consortia have already affiliated
Great idea, it'd definitely be worth a Wales-wide campaign. I'd appreciate a conversation about this, and the work already being done at several unions, at the NUS Wales Conference.