Workers’ oppression and environmental abuse: The companies the NUS supports

In stark contrast to their rhetoric


The National Union of Students (NUS) supports companies with poor ethical records, ratings suggest.

According to rankings provided by Ethical Consumer Magazine, five companies in partnership with the NUS were given poor ratings in multiple areas including environmental impact, animal rights and human rights.

The ratings come from Ethical Consumer Magazine, which ranks companies according to a variety of factors, enabling consumers to make ethical choices.

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Companies include internet giant Amazon, which offers students who have a NUS-extra card a 50 per cent discount on student membership. The company, currently boycotted by Ethical Consumer Magazine, has been heavily criticised for its record of tax evasion, as well as the selling of weapons, lack of worker’s rights, sale of products of endangered cetaceans and leather, the sale of products tested on animals, sale of pornographic material and operations in oppressive regimes such as India and China.

Four fashion companies, New Look, Matalan, ASOS and Miss Selfridge were also given low rankings by Ethical Consumer because their products were manufactured in factories with poor working conditions.

British clothing and homeware company, Matalan that offers students a 10 per cent discount, received a ranking of 7.5. Aside from manufacturing products in countries with poor workers’ rights records, the company was involved in the Rena Plaza disaster, where a poorly maintained Bangladeshi factory manufacturing Matalan clothes collapsed in April 2013, killing 1127 workers and leaving 2437 injured.

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The company was heavily criticised for its delay in contributing to a UN-backed compensation fund for the families of those killed and injured- it refused to disclose the amount of money it contributed.

Miss Selfridge, a women’s clothing store which had a ranking of 7 out of 20 offers NUS-extra cardholders a 10 per cent discount. The company does not require suppliers to have a code of conduct for workers’ rights nor does it have a environmental policy.

Online clothing store ASOS- that currently offers NUS-extra holders a 20 per cent Black Friday discount– received a poor rating of 7.5 out of 20 for its use of real fur and leather as well as manufacturing its clothes in oppressive environments in China and India.

Aside from advocating students’ rights, the NUS is heavily involved in campaigns surrounding the environment and workers’ rights. This year, the NUS is campaigning for universities to divest from fossil fuel companies and the NUS Women’s officer, Susuana Amoah promised to “lead campaign will focus on the impact of violence and objectification towards women students.”

According t0 their website, for an “investment” companies get the chance to become NUS extra brand partnership. Benefits include an “unrivalled brand exposure across 550 students’ union campuses”, discounted marketing opportunities, access to student market research and exposure through student social channels.

The NUS has been approached for comment.

You can check out the rankings on Ethical Consumer Magazine