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Large Swedish companies come under intense criticism about their operations in low wage countries

Tuesday, 26 June 2012
Many Swedish companies have been associated with a critical report in which worker rights and working conditions in low wage countries have been identified.

Ranging from worker being forced to work with dangerous machinery and no breaks, as well as supplier giving employees time off only one day a month, the Swedish companies operating in these places have been called once more to improve of their corporate social responsibility.

In 2005, the organisation Swedwatch, pointed out that Clas Ohlson, Jula and Auto parts dealer, Biltema, which purchased their products from China, according a damning report, revealed major shortcomings in companies' control over working conditions and environmental concerns of the worker in their Chinese operations.

All the company had since improved their operations and transparency while setting higher standards for its suppliers.

But a new report from 2012 shows that the working environment for employees of subcontractors in China have reversed to the old such that dangerous machinery are employed by workers who also work extremely long hours and work on a piece of dangerous and very heavy machinery without breaks.

Swedwatch has visited some of these plants and found that working in many places is downright dangerous.

At a factory producing goods for the auto parts shop, Biltema and Jula employees are working between 11 and 13 hours per day.

In Jula’s supplier, workers only get a day off a month, although under Chinese law they are entitled to at least one day off a week. The spot visits which Swedwatch made in the factories has shown the worst working conditions in Jula and Biltema’s  suppliers of sun beds and air mattresses.

“What we do a lot of, it is trying to influence, to try to have a dialogue,” says Joachim Frykberg, managing director of Jula to Swedish teevision.

Clas Ohlson has two branches in China, with six employees who implement around 500 factory inspections per year. Even Rusta has begun a serious follow-up on their social demands, while the auto parts dealer, Biltema and Jula have done less. Biltema  still have no code of conduct which states how the employment conditions apply and Jula has just started checking their social demands.
By Team

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