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Many workers at Nokia plant in India said not to make a living wage
Nokia still pays best wages in the field to established employees
Most of the employees working at a mobile telephone manufacturing plant run by the Finnish company Nokia do not earn enough at their jobs to live on.
According to a report by the Finnwatch civic organisation, those in the worst situation are shift workers with fixed-term jobs, as well as trainees, who comprise more than half of all employees.
Last spring Finnwatch studied the working conditions prevailing at the Nokia factory in Chennai, as well as its subcontractors in the area – the Finnish Salocomp, the Taiwanese Foxconn, and the Singaporean Flextronics.
The Finnwatch organisation monitors the activities of Finnish companies in developing countries and economies in transition.
The four factories in question pay their shift workers and trainees between 70 and 80 euros a month for working six-day weeks. This is more than the minimum wage, but significantly less than what is considered adequate to make a living in India.
Labour unions and non-governmental organisations calculate that EUR 130 a month is sufficient to live on in India.
Finnwatch found some positive sides: labour unions had been formed and they are allowed to operate. Partly thanks to them, the wages of permanent employees have risen.
Permanent employees usually earn more than EUR 130 a month, and Nokia is a leader in paying wages in its field in India, with established employees getting as much as EUR 190 a month. In addition, food, transport to the plant, and health services.
However, only slightly more than half of the 11,000 employees working for Nokia at the Chennai factory have open-ended contracts. The rest are trainees, or have temporary contracts.
At the Salocomp plant 80 per cent of employees have permanent contracts. With Flextronics the figure is 60 per cent, and with Foxconn it is 55 per cent.
“A traineeship can sometimes take as much as two years, which is too much in the view of the employees. The work can be learned in a couple of months”, says Finnwatch researcher Päivi Pöyhönen.
Often there is only a few months of orientation, after which the employee starts working on the “line” but with a trainee’s wages. There are no guarantees of being hired getting a permanent job after the traineeship.
“The assumption is that everyone will stay on with us. However, we do not have the information on how large a proportion do stay on as regular employees”, says Miia Hapuoja, who is in charge of ethical standards at Nokia.
The trainee phase at the Chennai factory lasts 15 months.
Nokia does not know how many temp workers there are at the Chennai plant, and how long they have worked. Nokia also does not offer fixed employment for its temp workers.
The wages of temp workers are paid by the company that hires them, which has been contracted by Nokia.