Helsinki - The world's leading mobile telephone producer Nokia admitted on Tuesday 8 April in Helsinki that "the union leaders" at Nokia's plant in Reynosa in Mexico are appointed by the company itself. Thus the principle of free organising of labour, approved by Nokia in its code of conduct, does not materialise in practise at its very own plant.
The conclusion is one of the major findings in a study, published 8 April in Helsinki. The study consists of replies from 88 employees to a 59 -question questionnaire and observations within the plant.
The data was collected in two stages. After the initial stage a few years ago the researches tried to get Nokia involved in the study. That however failed, and the second stage of the data collection ended in August 2007. The study was made by Cilas (Centro de Investigación Laboral y Asesoria
Sindical) and commissioned by SASK (Trade Union Solidarity Centre of Finland).
The study reveals that less than half of the employees know that "a collective agreement" even exists. The employees have not had any role in the creation of the agreement. The agreement had come about through cooperation between the undemocratically appointed representatives of the employees and the company.
Hardly surprising that a large majority of the respondents believe "the union" to favour the employer.
In Mexico Nokia is far from being the only multinational that has organised its labour relations to the personnel in this way. On the contrary, this kind of system (Sindicatos de Protección) is the prevailing system.
A large provision of agency labour
Another major finding was that at its Reynosa plant Nokia has rapidly increased the provision of agency labour. About 35 per cent of the labour force at the factory is employed by the labour agency Manpower. Another labour agency Adecco is responsible for a smaller provision of the personnel.
According to the study the agency labour has lower wages and poorer benefits than the permanent employees. Yet it is a regular occurrence for agency labour to be employed permanently by Nokia after six months of work.
About 60 per cent of the employees belong to pay categories 1 and 2. Their regular working hour wages vary from EUR42 to EUR54 per month. Another 20 per cent are paid category 3 wages giving them in average EUR56 per month.
Participation in overtime work is voluntary and compensated according to theextra hours worked, almost all respondents (97.7 per cent) attested.
Finnish unions want Nokia to sign
a global framework agreement
In the press conference where the study was published three Finnish trade unions suggested to Nokia that they sign a global framework agreement. The three organisations – The Metalworkers' Union, The Union of Salaried Employees TU and The Union of Professional Engineers in Finland - represent a large proportion of Nokia's and the whole technology industry's personnel in Finland.
The unions made mention of the fact that they have been asking Nokia to begin to negotiate with International Metalworkers' Union on a global framework agreement since 2002. Not a single multinational company, based in Finland, has yet signed a global framework agreement. Elsewhere in Europe there are 35 multinationals that have such an agreement.
The three unions believe that signing a framework agreement would have a strong positive impact on Nokia's international reputation.