Bloomberg News

Nokia Says Chennai Plant Conditions Better Than Report Concludes

September 14, 2011

Sept. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Nokia Oyj, the world’s largest mobile-phone maker by units, said workers at its factory in Chennai, India, are better off than concluded in a report by human-rights organizations.

“As the report says, Nokia pays the highest wages in the area,” Doug Dawson, a spokesman for the Espoo, Finland-based manufacturer, said today in an interview. “The wage comparison also didn’t take into account benefits like occupational health, meals, day care and transportation.”

Three business-practice monitoring groups, including Helsinki-based Finnwatch, published a study yesterday of four foreign mobile-phone manufacturers and component makers in India, calling on the companies to treat temporary and permanent workers equally and offer high enough pay to allow employees to start families. Nokia cooperated in the preparation of the report, Dawson said.

Nokia’s Chennai plant, which Dawson said is the company’s biggest worldwide, produces more than 300,000 handsets a day and employs 11,364 people, of whom 19 percent are contract workers and 26 percent trainees, according to the joint report by Finnwatch, Amsterdam-based Somo and Bangalore, India-based Cividep.

Workers at the Chennai site went on strike for two days in January 2010 to protest disciplinary suspensions.

Wages

Permanent employees at Nokia make 6,000 rupees ($125) to 11,666 rupees a month compared with a minimum wage for India calculated at 7,967 rupees a month by the Asia Floor Wage campaign, according to the report. Nokia disagrees with the rights groups’ comparison of its wages paid in Chennai with minimum wages in the New Delhi area, Dawson said.

Contract workers received a lower wage of 4,400 rupees monthly, according to the report. Chennai workers said they needed at least 9,000 rupees monthly to rent a room and start a family, it said.

In addition to the Nokia plant, the rights groups’ study focused on Chennai-area factories of Salcomp Oyj, Flextronics International Ltd. and Foxconn International Holdings Ltd. The London-based Financial Times reported on the findings on Nokia in today’s edition.

--Editors: Tom Lavell, Simon Thiel

To contact the reporter on this story: Diana ben-Aaron in Helsinki at dbenaaron1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kenneth Wong at kwong11@bloomberg.net


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