Over a Thousand People Call on University of Plymouth to go Sweatshop Free

Authored by Ella
Posted: Friday, May 1, 2020 - 12:39

Students at the University of Plymouth today delivered a petition calling on the university to ensure it’s electronic equipment isn’t being made in sweatshops. The petition, which has over 1,000 signatures, demands that the university affiliates to Electronics Watch, an independent labour monitoring organisation for the electronics industry. 135 UK public institutions have already signed up to Electronics Watch, including most recently the University of Sussex and the University of Reading. The petition is just one aspect of a 2-year campaign by Plymouth People & Planet Society, which aims to get the University of Plymouth to be more ethical in considering the impacts it’s purchases have on workers around the globe.

The group, which consists of students and alumni from the University of Plymouth, chose International Workers’ Day (1st May) to deliver their petition to further highlight the poor working conditions experienced by many in the global electronics industry. Whilst conditions vary from factory to factory, some electronics workers spend excessively long hours working in dangerous conditions. They may be at risk of developing cancer from toxic chemical exposure, which also pollutes the environment. Many sweatshop workers experience violence and are at risk of modern slavery. The petition suggests that student fees ought to be used to eradicate rather than perpetuate a procurement system based on the exploitation of workers.

Joey Swan, Plymouth People & Planet Chairperson, said “Reaching 1,000 signatures on our petition is an impressive milestone but we haven’t won yet, as the University of Plymouth are still yet to affiliate to Electronics Watch. I hope this sends a clear message that the students and residents of Plymouth want the university to consider the impact of its supply chains on already marginalised communities and workers. We have been in contact with and had meetings with university management about the issue this year, and we hope that they will now affiliate to Electronics Watch.”

To celebrate this important campaign milestone, Plymouth People & Planet Society today published a video on their social media showing the 1,000 signatures and students reactions. Alyssa Carrington, a student at University of Plymouth, said “I’m so glad the students at Plymouth have got behind our campaign in such big numbers! It just shows that students really do care about this hugely important cause, and we are so grateful and happy about that!”.

Plymouth is not the only university to have come under criticism for not ensuring it’s electronics supply chains are ethical, with student campaigns also in full-swing at Kings College London, the University of Surrey, University of Wales, Trinity St. David and several others. To add your voice to those calling on the University of Plymouth to go Sweatshop Free, sign the petition here: https://act.peopleandplanet.org/petitions/plymouth-university-help-us-stop-sweatshops-sign-up-to-electronics-watch


  1. Read more about Electronics Watch on their website here: https://electronicswatch.org/en
  2. See the full list of Electronics Watch affiliates here: https://electronicswatch.org/en/affiliates_2221327
  3. Link to the Plymouth People & Planet petition: https://act.peopleandplanet.org/petitions/plymouth-university-help-us-stop-sweatshops-sign-up-to-electronics-watch
  4. Read more about People & Planets Sweatshop Free campaign here: https://peopleandplanet.org/sweatshopfree
  5. Read this Blog from Plymouth People & Planet, published in February 2018 at the start of their Sweatshop Free campaign: https://peopleandplanet.org/blog/2018-02-28/when-will-plymouth-university-go-sweatshop-free
  6. Read this Blog from Plymouth People & Planet, published today as an update to their Sweatshop Free campaign: https://peopleandplanet.org/blog/2020-05-01/plymouth-sweatshop-free-petition-hand-during-lockdown
  7. Watch the video students made showing their reactions to the petition hand-in here: https://www.facebook.com/peopleandplanetplymouth/videos/536617336998657/
  8. The featured photograph is from December 2018, Plymouth People & Planet are respecting current government guidelines on social distancing and isolation