At the occasion of the Nokia human rights summit on 29 and 30 September 2010 in Helsinki, the GoodElectronics Network and makeITfair are publishing an Open Letter to Nokia. Nokia specifically puts ‘living wage’ and ‘special economic zones’ on the agenda. GoodElectronics and makeITfair agree these are important topics; but feel that these should be looked at in connection with other social and economic issues. The letter suggests a number of important issues for Nokia to take action on.
In the letter GoodElectronics and makeITfair give their appreciation that Nokia makes work of stakeholder consultation. As an influential world leader in telecommunication with a majority share in the market of mobile phones, Nokia does indeed have a responsibility to show leadership on human rights and environmental issues.
GoodElectronics and makeITfair call upon Nokia amongst others: to improve its CSR policy documents; to include the notion of extended supply chain responsibility in its CSR policies and practices; to take a stand against precarious work; to involve local and international stakeholders and develop and facilitate mature relations with trade unions representing workers; to re-consider its approach regarding conflict minerals, in particular minerals originating from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC); and to improve its performance in recycling
To illustrate the topics presented in the letter, some examples of recent and/or ongoing cases of labour issues are put forward. One of the cases describes the Labour practices in the Nokia Special Economic Zone (SEZ) at Sriperumbudur in India. This zone hosts production facilities of Nokia as well as of of Nokia’s major suppliers, including Foxconn. In the past year, Nokia Sriperumbudur workers went on strike at three occasions (in August 2009, January 2010 and in July 2010), to denounce low wages, and lack of career prospective. Just last week, 1,500 Foxconn workers in the Sriperumbudur SEZ staged a sit-in to enforce demands for a wage increase.
The newly published analysis of Indian labour rights organisation Cividep shows that Nokia’s ambition and drive to expand its grip over the Indian market has implications for workers and working conditions on the shop-floor. Most prominent, and grave, among these is the precariousness of employment in the mobile manufacturing plants, companies have obtained the right to hire and fire labour at will. The right of workers to strike has been restricted by classifying ICT manufacturing as 'public utility'. Nokia is happily operating under these conditions.
Other cases in the letter describe: the way the Indian government supports for Nokia at the expense of public funds; the unfair dismissal of temporary Nokia workers and the allowens of a 'yellow union' to undermine workers rights in Mexico; Nokia’s cold water fear in engaging with local stakeholders in China.