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Human Rights in the Supply Chain

Respecting Human Rights in the supply chain

Having over 14 000 suppliers in over 100 countries all over the world, we are focused on ensuring that labor rights are respected in all of the operations that suppliers conduct on our behalf, be that a rigger installing our 4G network equipment in Togo or a manufacturing line worker engaged on the manufacturing line of our network equipment related components in Vietnam.

Nokia Supplier Requirements

Basic workers rights that are outlined in Nokia Supplier Requirements include for example requirements related to clearly defined recruitment and exit procedures, formal working contracts or rules that define terms and conditions of employment and contain working hours, salary and overtime pay rates and compensation for working outside of normal working hours.

The Supplier Requirements also address frequency of payment, notice period, non-disclosure of customer confidential information, provision of reasonable working hours and rest day, social and medical benefits, feedback channels for bottom-up feedback, and respect for the workers’ right to join or form worker committees or unions.

Even though the above issues are contractually required, we do not rely on contracts alone to do the job of ensuring compliance.

Audits, assessments and spending time onsite

We monitor adherence to worker rights firstly via our online assessments, such as use of the services of EcoVadis, through which we can evaluate policies and procedures, as well as key programs and indicators that suppliers have on the human resources management side.

In order to dive deeper into actual implementation cases, we conduct labor conditions and environmental audits, where our internal auditors, who are qualified under the SA8000 standard, and our auditing partner spend time onsite at supplier facilities, reviewing deeper documentation such as proof of communication and training around basic labour policies, as well as availability of working contracts, payslips, social and medical insurance transactions, timesheets, meeting minutes of respective committees, grievance channels deployed, and final settlements conducted, amongst other evidence.

An important component of such audits are worker interviews that are conducted by auditors individually or in small groups, independent of the supplier’s management.

Corrective actions

Challenges or concerns that are spotted during audits are followed up by corrective action plans and reviews. Perhaps even more importantly, observations are brought to supplier workshops that are conducted in high risk countries located primarily in Middle-East and Africa, China, India and Asia Pacific regions.

In some of the countries where legislative requirements are not so strong, and relevant ILO conventions are not ratified, it is especially important to explain to suppliers why our company requirements are more strict and why it is necessary to find a solution for full adherence. Such workshops also enable us to openly meet up with suppliers, map challenges and brainstorm on the solutions together.

Challenges and action points are also brought back internally, since proper demand planning and forecasting, enables suppliers to do better workforce planning, having necessary amount of employees on board to meet our needs, without over reliance on contract labour or pushing own employees to work excessive overtime or breach the weekly rest-day requirement.

Challenges ahead

Looking to the future, there are several challenges ahead of us.

As there is more and more labor migration, we need to ensure that migrant workers are treated fairly, with respect for all standard worker rights and no artificial bonds created to restrain workers from terminating their employment with a reasonable notice period.

It is also important to prepare our controls to properly cover labor risks in the deployment of more modern ways of employment such as crowdsourcing. Also, when looking at cost efficiency, it is important to understand what can be optimized without compromising the suppliers’ ability to perform which can create pressure to cut back on basic worker rights, statutory benefits or pushing work to informal/casual labour.

Share your thoughts on this topic by joining the Twitter discussion with @nokianetworks using #humanrightsday #workersrights #sustainability 

Elina Rääsk

About Elina Rääsk

Elina Rääsk works in the Nokia Supply Quality Department. She is the Sustainable Operations Manager overseeing sustainable supply chain and procurement strategy.

Elina joined Nokia Global Procurement Organization in 2009, and has been engaged in procurement related sustainability activities since then, including supplier audits, assessments, supplier learning and capability building, industry collaboration across a broad scope of topics such as labour rights, modern slavery, health and safety, climate change, and conflict minerals. Since then her role has evolved into strategic deployment and management of sustainability topics across supply chain organization.

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