Telenor has recently been made aware of unacceptable working conditions at a subcontractor to a supplier to Grameenphone in Bangladesh. In connection with this matter, which has now caught media attention, Telenor wishes to make some further clarifications.
On Monday 4 September, Telenor received a request from the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) as to whether or not we had any knowledge of the company Gazi Engineering. NRK had filmed child labour and hazardous working conditions at this company, and they asked Grameenphone to look into the matter.
Grameenphone immediately started investigations, and this morning identified the company. Gazi Engineering is not a subcontractor to Grameenphone, but a subcontractor to a supplier of construction services.
“This clearly shows the dilemmas we face when doing business in developing countries. Telenor is systematically working to evaluate and develop health, safety and environmental issues with our subcontractors, but there will always be challenges in developing countries and we have in the past few months concentrated on those that we are in direct relationship with. When we or others reveal unacceptable conditions further down the value chain, we will of course respond. We are now on to the case,” says Hilde Tonne, Executive Vice President of Telenor.
Grameenphone has more than 700 suppliers and has, as a part of their efforts to improve conditions, already conducted audits and courses at more than 160 suppliers. The progress of this work is good and substantial improvements may now be observed with all these suppliers. On the 26th August the Board of Directors of Grameenphone was informed, and all the board members expressed great satisfaction with the progress of this work.
“It is a fact that our presence and long-term work in countries like Bangladesh yield positive spin-offs for the society as such. Dangerous working conditions, including child labour, are a major problem in Bangladesh. Neither Grameenphone nor Telenor can, however, take responsibility for all social wrongdoings in Bangladesh, but we have taken our share of the responsibility to improve conditions with our suppliers and to work for long-term improvements in all the communities where we operate,” says Hilde Tonne.
Fredrik Baksaas will meet Mohammad Yunus at the Nobel Peace Centre this afternoon at 17:00 Norwegian time and there will be opportunities for comments after the meeting, at approximately 17:45 Norwegian time.
Telenor is planning a press briefing in mid-September to present the status of the HSE work (Health, Safety and Environment), in both Bangladesh and in the Telenor Group at large. An invitation to the press briefing will be announced at a later stage.
For further information regarding Telenor’s follow-up of unacceptable working conditions in Bangladesh, see: http://www.telenor.com/working-conditions-in-Bangladesh/
Scott Engebrigtsen, Head of Information Telenor ASA
tel. (+47) 900 43 484.