Workers for Wärtsilä’s Indian contractor live in subpar conditions. Photograph by: Finnwatch/Sonja Vartiala

Wärtsilä’s factory located in Khopoli, India pays minimum wages, which are insufficient to cover living costs, and favours temporary contract workers, whose terms of employment are not nearly as good as those of its permanent employees. In order to avoid periodic collective bargaining, Wärtsilä has single-handedly appointed a trade union to act at the factory.

“The trade union does not represent temporary contract workers and has not actively pursued higher wages for workers. The use of this so-called yellow union is in clear contradiction with the spirit of Wärtsilä's accountability policies,” says Finnwatch Executive Director Sonja Vartiala.

Finnwatch recognises that Wärtsilä’s India-based factory has maintained an excellent standard of occupational safety.

“Wärtsilä strives to ensure occupational safety by offering its workers periodic training, as well as providing protective clothing and equipment. This is by no means a matter of course in India,” Ms Vartiala states.

However, Echjay Forgings, Wärtsilä’s supplier based in Honad village, India receives no praise from Finnwatch. Factory workers interviewed by Finnwatch reported that there were serious problems with the factory's working conditions. The factory supplies flanges to Wärtsilä.

“Some of the workers said that the salaries they earn are illegally low and that they work without paid leave. Migrant workers work 12 hours a day, six days a week. Many of the workers live in filthy conditions, without adequate sanitation in factory-provided housing,” Ms Vartiala states.

Echjay Forgings is currently embroiled in a court case with a local trade union, and threatened to also take legal action against Finnwatch, if the report was published. The factory denied all the findings detailed in the Finnwatch report.

Wärtsilä's annual report implies that the corporation conducts systematic and comprehensive monitoring of its contractors. However, Finnwatch believes that the corporation conveys far too positive a picture of reality.

“Monitoring of the working condition throughout its supplier chain seems to be a key area in which Wärtsilä needs to develop its activities. The Wärtsilä contractor we inspected was rated and approved as a supplier, although the company's working conditions had not been audited," Ms Vartiala recounts.

Finnwatch also criticised Wärtsilä for the inadequate assessment of human rights risks. Contractors are not monitored on the basis of the risks related to their activities, but according to other reasons related to business activities. Additionally, no preliminary human rights risk assessment is conducted for construction projects.

“Workers at Wärtsilä’s construction site in Mozambique were uninformed about their working conditions, and unrest and strikes had taken place at building sites. These problems might have been prevented, if closer attention had been paid to local challenges prior to initiating the project. Finnwatch also urges Finland’s government to take action.

“The Finnish government must enact legislation that will obligate Finnish companies to perform human rights risk assessments pursuant to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Finland has already committed to the implementation of these Guiding Principles,” Ms Vartiala reminds.

Finnwatch investigated Wärtsilä’s activities in Mozambique and India for the span of one year. The now published report is the organization's most extensive investigation concerning a single corporation. The report was commissioned by the Trade Union Solidarity Centre of Finland SASK, the Finnish Metalworkers’ Union, Union of Professional Engineers in Finland and Trade Union Pro.

An unofficial translation of the Finnwatch report “In High-tech's Backyard – Labour Rights as a Part of Wärtsilä’s Value Chain” is available in English >>> 

Downloads of press photographs depicting the housing and living conditions of workers, who work for Wärtsilä’s contractor >>>  

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