Student-led protest group demonstrate solidarity with workers

Source: Fabrizio Silveri

By Siôn Ford

On October 26, the activist student group People & Planet protested outside Samsung’s Queen Street store in Cardiff city centre as part of a national campaign called ‘48 Hours Of Action Against Samsung’ intended to draw attention to the corporation’s no-union policy.

The group describe themselves as the “largest student network in the UK”, and seek to highlight social and environmental injustices across the country. It is an organisation comprised of students and young people who want to change corporate behaviours and attitudes. Alongside this campaign, the group have also protested against Barclays’ fossil fuel investments, sweat-shop labour, and unethical procurement by British universities.

The most recent protests were aimed squarely at Samsung. The company has drawn a lot of criticism in the past for refusing to compromise its position, and following a damning report by the UN’s treatment of staff in Vietnam, the company has been criticised for its human rights abuses.

Source: Fabrizio Silveri

“Samsung is keeping factory workers in Vietnam and Korea in inhuman conditions, busting unions and exposing unaware workers to dangerous chemicals for mere greed,” said Fabrizio Silveri, a Cardiff University student and member of the protest group, People & Planet.

“People & Planet has decided to try and raise awareness on these issues by organising 48 hours of non-violent direct action against Samsung, by protesting in front of high street shops throughout the UK,” he said.

Alongside peaceful demonstrations, People & Planet state that they also offer training and informational resources to help others who want to get involved. One of their stated key aims is to empower young people to be able to organise themselves, carry out effective campaigns and collaborate with underrepresented communities.

Source: Fabrizio Silveri

Ella Wilkinson, a co-ordinating member of the group, also spoke about why she believes these protests are important.

“Without the freedom to join a union it is practically impossible for workers to ensure they have access to adequate pay, safe working conditions and a dignified work environment.

“Whilst some employers may satisfy workers grievances on an individual level, it is only when workers come together that they can achieve long-term, systemic change for themselves and for others.”

Cardiff University has also come under criticism from People & Planet, specifically for its lack of progress in improving its environmental and ethical procurement policies. The group did successfully petition a full divestment by Cardiff University from all fossil fuel providers, but the group have yet to finish their work in the Welsh capital.

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