In 2017, Nokian Tyres made an assessment of human rights in our value chain. In the assessment we recognized several (10) human rights related risk areas in supply chain: Right to health, right to privacy and right to family life being the most evident.
- Right to privacy
- Right to a family life
- Right to health
- Right to life
- Right not to be subjected to slavery, servitude or forced labor
- Right to freedom of movement
- Rights of protection of the family and the right to marry
- Right to enjoy just and favorable conditions of work
- Right to an adequate standard of living
- Right to education
Most of the natural rubber used by Nokian Tyres comes from the Southeast Asia. As an agricultural product, it is the livelihood of many families living in countries where the local legislation and working conditions have not been fully developed. Nokian Tyres expects its partners to adhere to our Supplier Code of Conduct, which expects the suppliers to commit to human rights, and prohibits the use of child or forced labor and discrimination, among other things.
In 2016, Nokian Tyres followed its sustainability plan and started auditing the natural rubber processing plants it cooperates with. Audits are conducted by a third party and corrective actions are suggested where issues are detected. Re-audits are then planned to ensure development. Actions in audited natural rubber processor facilities are ongoing and the results are promising: workers had shifted to more moderate working hours, they had resting days and water automats as well as education on their rights, to name a few. We have set a goal to audit all of Nokian Tyres’ major rubber processor partners by 2020. This relates to at least 80% of our natural rubber purchasing volume.
Also traceability remains problematic as the supply chain is fragmented. There are approximately 3-6 million farmers of natural rubber, who collect the cup lumps and sell them to local dealers. They collect them from several farmers and sell the latex then forward to processing plants. The processing plants then sell the processed natural rubber to global traders. Nokian Tyres only purchases rubber, which is being processed in the plants our company has approved.
Nokian Tires considers cooperation with the industry and other stakeholders as vital in improving these conditions. The tire industry has made a joined effort to move toward sustainable natural rubber also when it comes to labor rights. Nokian Tyres is a member of Global Platform for Sustainable Natural Rubber, which is a platform established by WWF, several other nonprofit organizations, rubber traders and processors, and large tire manufacturers.
GPSNR strives to increase the supply and uptake of sustainable natural rubber in the global marketplace. Members of the platform will develop sustainable natural rubber standards, mechanisms and guidance on the implementation, monitoring and verification of sustainable natural rubber commitments from companies.
AUDITS HELPED IMPROVE LABOR RIGHTS IN THE SUPPLY CHAIN
Nokian Tyres has conducted social sustainability audits at natural rubber processing factories since 2016. In 2018, we made 4 new audits and 4 follow-up audits. They were carried out externally by a third party.
In our sustainability audits, five different areas are being investigated: human rights, labor rights, health & safety, business practices, and environment. After the initial audits, a commonly agreed corrective plan is drawn. The follow-up audits in Malaysia and Indonesia showed significant improvement especially in labor rights: workers no longer did grueling 12–14 hour-shifts and had resting days required by the law.
The follow-up audits also showed significant improvement in creating health & safety systems as the factories have arranged education on safety issues. The recycling of metallic waste was also well organized after the initial audits. However, some governments still lack a proper recycling program for hazardous waste.
Business practices also showed improvement: education on code of conduct had been arranged and one factory owner had also visited his suppliers to educate them on safety issues and discuss ethical business practices. No critical risks were found concerning human rights.
However, the high recruitment and work permit fees for the foreign workers in Malaysia remain problematic. Workers are forced to loan money, which creates the pressure to work excessive hours. Revisited factories are in the process of defining whether a government-run recruitment agency would be a solution to the problem and one has helped a worker with the fees.