Central Procurement Office

Worker Rights Consortium

The University of Manchester (together with the Students' Union) has affiliated with the Worker Rights Consortium.

The WRC is an independent, non-political labour rights monitoring organisation which makes efforts to collaborate with workers, non-governmental organisations, and other universities and colleges, to improve the conditions of workers in the garment industry.

They conduct independent, in-depth investigations; issue public reports on factories producing for major brands; and aid workers at these factories in their efforts to end labour abuses and defend their workplace rights.

The WRC currently has the support of over 180 college and university affiliates and their primary focus is the labour practices of factories that make university-related garments.

The WRC endeavours to monitor supply chains, and currently is concentrating on the garment industry as this is where they feel they can make most impact – although they have campaigns to improve human rights in every part of the supply chain. The garment industry also has some of the most exploitative supply chains in the world, but workers are already campaigning for better conditions, the WRC assists the workers by educating them and setting up processes and anonymous complaints procedures. The WRC differs from Fair Trade as it concentrates on industrial processes rather than production of raw materials.

Affiliation gives the University the knowledge to act appropriately and inform our processes, enabling us to ensure that the suppliers we contract with are aware of the University’s commitment to socially responsible procurement.

The University working with the Students' Union

The University worked closely with the University Students' Union to bring about the affiliation. Joel Smith, Activities and Development Officer for UMSU said "It's fantastic to see the University working with the Students' Union to bring about improvement in conditions for workers in the garment industry. It's great to see grassroots student-led campaigns being realised and to see the University taking responsible steps as a large organisation, utilising it's purchasing power for good".

The affiliation announcement was published in Staffnet in February 2015.

We are very pleased to announce our affiliation to the Worker Rights Consortium, who provide global expertise and independent scrutiny in the garment industry. Meeting the conditions for affiliation was a real team effort, involving colleagues in our procurement team, academic advice from our own expert in this area, Professor Stephanie Barrientos, and the support and engagement of the University of Manchester Students' Union, who made a real commitment to working with the University to achieve this change.Dr Julian Skyrme, Director of Social Responsibility

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