Students believe that this Union has a duty to take a moral stance and encourage corporations to behave more responsibly. The need to remain ethical in our operations has never been greater, with the growing threat of catastrophic climate change. Corporate Social Responsibility is often used to cover over the real issues that companies refuse to acknowledge and cannot be trusted as a way to inform oneself about a company.
Some of the peaceful and effective ways of encourage corporations to be socially responsible are consumer boycotts, ethical investment, and keeping to a Sustainable and Ethical Business Code. Ethical investments are often very successful. The Church of England has implemented an ethical investment policy and in recent years has done better financially than many other organisations.
Also boycotts can be an effective tool in highlighting and ending gross injustices in a company or countries practices, as shown for example in the boycotts of Barclays relating to Apartheid South Africa.
In 2011-12 the Union started a campaign to get the University to keep to its Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) policy – a policy designed to stop the University investing in companies that are unethical. The University has agreed to review the methodology they use to implement the SRI policy. We are awaiting the results of this review to see if there is meaningful change.
In 2006 and 2010 students also made the choice to implement the following Sustainable and Ethical Business Code for use in the Union’s business decisions:
a. That, whenever possible, Fairtrade products will be provided in place of non-Fairtrade.
b. That renewable energy will be used when possible.
c. That companies, and their subsidiaries, that are invested in or procured from or that the Union has any financial relationship towards must:-
i Allow unhindered trade union participation of their workforce.
ii Be free of child, sweatshop, forced and slave labour.
iii Maintain and uphold anti-discrimination policies relating to ethnicity, religion, sex, sexuality, age and disability.
iv Not be contributing to the worsening of lives through abuse of market power and/or advertising.
v Not be contributing to the worsening of lives locally by its operating actions on the ground, or as a direct result of the use of its products.
vi Not operate in such a way, or invest in any other company or organisation, that is environmentally damaging, especially exacerbating climate change.
If a student sees a product in our Union that they believe goes against this code then they can bring up the issue for consideration to the Sustainable and Ethical Business Committee, which will make a decision on whether to cease investing in or having a relationship with that company.
In 2006 and 2010 students also made the choice to boycott Nestle.
In 2010 students voted to boycott the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and close the branch on Union property.
If you would like to get involved with any part of this campaign then please get in touch with the Campaigns and Citizenship Officer, Sorcha Floyd at email@example.com, or call the Union on 0161 275 8439.