Union's supplier refutes claims

April 12, 2001

Student leaders are to investigate claims that a clothing company endorsed by the National Union of Students shows scant regard for its workers' human rights.

Screen Stars, which supplies branded T-shirts and sweatshirts to student unions, is a division of US company Fruit of the Loom, which was recently accused of "disgraceful behaviour".

The International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers' Federation last month alleged that the company had indulged in "virulent anti-union activity", saying that its behaviour in Morocco breached Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development guidelines.

ITGLWF general secretary Neil Kearney said: "This is the unacceptable face of globalisation - a multinational company showing scant respect for the people it employs and deliberately trampling on their human rights."

But the company denied the allegations, saying: "Fruit of the Loom has been the target of a disinformation campaign in Morocco for the past several months. Contrary to the ITGLWF's allegations, Fruit of the Loom has an excellent labour record in Morocco and Ireland, and throughout the world."

NUS Services Ltd's ethical policy says: "NUSSL is particularly keen to work with suppliers that have progressive employment practices."

Zo Parks, the chair of the ethical and environmental committee at NUSSL, said Screen Stars was being investigated. But she added: "NUSSL's role is to look at every company and help them develop ethical and environmental practices."

But she said if the allegations about Screen Stars' parent company were true, it would not bar the union from working with the company. "We would try to get them to change their practices," she said.

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