The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Saturday September 25th

Students protest unjust working conditions in Bangladesh

United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) protested for Bangladeshi workers' rights in front of and inside the South Building. Some students occupied Chancellor Folt's office before being removed by the police.
Buy Photos United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) protested for Bangladeshi workers' rights in front of and inside the South Building. Some students occupied Chancellor Folt's office before being removed by the police.

These words rang out from South Building where members of Student Action with Workers gathered Thursday to force Chancellor Carol Folt to sign the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety . They rallied for the victims of what they called unjust working conditions .

Companies that sign the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh pledge to contribute money to the inspections and maintenance of the buildings .

While activist members and students gathered on the steps of South Building, some students and Minister Robert Campbell , president of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP, stayed in Chancellor Folt’s office until asked to leave at 1:30 p.m.

Sophomore Shannon Brien is a member of Student Action with Workers and said the group has been working toward their goal since October.

“Hopefully this will send a message to the Chancellor and to President Tom Ross that we want change at our University,” she said to students .

The rally also commemorated the anniversary of the Rana Plaza Factory collapse that killed about 1,130 people .

UNC spokeswoman Karen Moon said in an email that UNC-system President Tom Ross addressed the licensing practices for UNC system schools, including UNC-Chapel Hill .

According to Ross’ memo, the UNC General Administration will consider what steps they can take to ensure safer working conditions through its licensing and purchasing activity. He also encouraged universities to require licensees sourcing products in Bangladesh to sign the Accord or Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety

.

Other college campuses and organizations are also focusing on the importance of signing the Accord.

Brien said UNC was one of the largest purchasers of collegiate apparel with more than 60 factories in Bangladesh.

“We don’t want the next factory disaster to occur with a UNC shirt being pulled out of the rubble,” she said

But members of Student Action with Workers said they want UNC to support the Accord because it is a legally binding agreement. Other companies, like the VF Corporation , have signed the Alliance, which is not legally binding, instead of the Accord .

Senior Jessica Cooper said she thinks those rallying brought up some good points and they promoted their cause in a positive way.

I think it’s good to bring attention to things like this that sometimes get overlooked,” she said.

university@dailytarheel.com



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