According to a recent Finnwatch follow-up report entitled Ojasta allikkoon (“Out of the frying pan into the fire”), there are suspects of human trafficking and forced labour in parts of the production chain of the Pirkka, Rainbow and Eldorado pineapple juices. PAM challenges the employers to pay increased attention to the responsible operation of their procurement chains.
The Finnwatch follow-up report further notes that the Finnish companies SOK, Kesko and Tuko Logistics implemented several measures last year to improve their socially responsible procurements.
- Progress has been made but there is still room for improvement in order to call the procurement chain genuinely responsible, Mari Taivainen, Coordinator of International Affairs at PAM points out.
To change the supplier is not necessarily a step forward: Vita Foods, the new Thai supplier of pineapple juice to VIP-Juicemaker which, in turn, produces the juice for the Finnish companies, has an even lower rating in the Finnwatch survey than the ill-famed Natural Fruit plant. The report published a year ago focused on the social responsibility of the private labels of the major Finland-based retailers.
According to Mari Taivainen, the problems should be tackled through dialogue, not by terminating the procurement relationship. The companies should not discontinue their business with Vita Food Factory before all the possible means of improving the conditions of the workers have been tried.
- Finnish companies must continue to work systematically to ensure social responsibility in relation to the products containing ingredients from risk countries, Mari Taivainen adds.
The production chains should be traced and controls enhanced, and the companies must allocate sufficient resources for these operations.
- Labour rights should be as important as quality and price. They must also be raised as a key issue in the free trade negotiations conducted with Thailand.
Thailand must ensure full freedom of organisation for the workers, at the same time supporting free and democratic labour unions. In addition, the founding of specific immigrant workers' unions should also be allowed.
Mari Taivainen recommends that the companies in Finland and elsewhere in the world adopt the proposals for action included in the report. She is satisfied of the fact that the problems have surfaced owing to the Finnwatch action.
- We can intervene through collaboration between the labour union movement and the companies. This is not a Finnish problem alone but other Nordic procurers and European procurement circles are equally affected.
PAM challenges the Nordic employees and service companies to review their own practices and to take action to promote social responsibility.
Mari Taivainen, Coordinator of International Affairs at PAM, +358 40 524 6115
Finnwatch report Ojasta allikkoon: www.finnwatch.org
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