Trade Union News from Finland
A new study:
Producers and users of natural rubber products ignore
the serious social and health problems in the production chain
Helsinki (08.11.2012 – Juhani Artto) The Finnish-based tyre manufacturer
Nokian Renkaat uses anything from 40,000 to 50,000 tons of natural
rubber annually. The processors and traders that provide natural rubber
to the company have committed themselves to respect the code of conduct
of Nokian Renkaat. However, the code’s reach is limited as it only
concerns the personnel of the processors and traders themselves but not
those of the rubber plantations or the
Nokian Renkaat does not have any plantations of its own. It buys the
rubber it needs from Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam. The company does
not make public any
more specific information about the origins of the natural rubber it
arguing that its subcontractor network is a matter of business secrecy.
and health problems endured by rubber tappers and rubber workers are
totally ignored by Nokian Renkaat.
This data is from a study published in October by the Nordic watchdogs
Finnwatch and Danwatch. Five Finnish unions (JHL, Pro, SEL, Team and
and the Finnish development NGO Solidaarisuus support Finnwatch’s
organizing various international solidarity activities, the
present study included.
The report also deals with medical gloves made of natural rubber and
widely in the health care sector in Finland. Replies to a questionnaire
health care districts reveal that these organizations have not
considered ethical questions when sourcing rubber gloves. However, the
largest district covering the capital Helsinki and the surrounding
province of Uusimaa, plans to include ethical demands when it puts out
its next tender for medical
gloves. Seven health care districts failed to reply to the
Five suppliers of medical gloves, made of natural rubber, were asked
kind of ethical demands they put on companies they buy their medical
from. Three of these five companies demand that their subcontractors
respect and comply with the
ILO’s labour standards. One company is in the process of publishing its
conduct this autumn and the fifth company has not placed any ethical
demands on its goods providers.
Most of their medical gloves come from Malaysia and other Asian
where the risk of serious social and health problems in the production
is great. The study does not cover questions on how these companies
behaviour of their subcontractors.
The report’s literary review and field investigations make it clear that
serious social and health problems are common in the plantations where
natural rubber is tapped. Also use of child labour persists.
In the last paragraph the report offers thoughts on how the natural
production chain could be developed to meet internationally recognized