7 December 2009 | Rebecca Ellinor
UK university buyers are being urged to ensure their suppliers operate in line with ethical principles.
A campaign called “Buy Right”, run by People & Planet, a student action group on world poverty and the environment, is asking universities to use their £4 billion annual purchasing power to bring about social change.
Clothes such as sportswear, hoodies and sweatshirts are a major category in the spend figure and the group wants buyers to ensure providers of this kit adhere to principles such as rights for workers.
Jim Cranshaw, campaigns officer at People & Planet, says: “We want to see a cultural shift in university purchasing so that workers around the world who supply universities with sportswear and branded clothes are accorded the rights they are entitled to under international law.”
It also wants them to:
• Set up ethical procurement steering groups to develop ethical sourcing policies;
• Join the Worker’s Rights Consortium (WRC), an independent organisation that monitors human rights abuses worldwide; and
• Encourage companies supplying universities to take responsibility for upholding human rights in their supply chains.
“Joining the WRC means that universities will be kept informed about the companies they award contracts to – and will be able to take action against any which fail to tackle abuses,” Cranshaw added.