Nokia has so far refused to accept that it was at fault in the case. Indeed, during an earlier hearing in August this year, management went so far as to deny that the Human Resources officer (Miss Wei) who allegedly refused the plaintiff employment had ever worked for Nokia. This despite the fact that Miss Wei had earlier talked to two separate newspapers about the case and confirmed to the Yangcheng Evening News that Nokia "cannot accept job applicants with HBV."
Even though it does not accept it was at fault, Nokia says on its corporate website that after the lawsuit was first filed in March 2007, it stopped testing for Hepatitis B as part of its pre-employment evaluation, and now offers awareness training for staff and voluntary HBV vaccinations for employees in China. CLB welcomes this development but notes with concern that even after this stated policy change, a prospective employee claimed he was refused employment because he told the interviewer he had HBV.
CLB has written to Nokia Chairman, Jorma Ollila, asking that Nokia accepts responsibility for its actions in the ongoing case, compensates the victim, and undertakes to ensure that HBV discrimination really is ended at its China subsidiaries. Please see the letter below.
For more information about this case and CLB's labour rights litigation work in China, please contact:
Editor. China Labour Bulletin www.clb.org.hk
Office. 852 2780 2187
Mobile. 852 6402 1530
An open letter from China Labour Bulletin to Jorma Ollila, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Nokia Corporation.
Nokia is a worldwide leader in the mobile phone and communications industry. Nokia claims that "all Nokia factory workers have the right to work under safe, supportive and encouraging labor conditions." Specifically, it stresses that “Nokia factory workers are free of any discrimination and harassment in all employment practices, such as job postings and access to trainings.”
It is extremely regretful therefore that not only was a job applicant refused employment at Nokia's facility in Dongguan, Guangdong province, China last year because he had the Hepatitis B virus, but that at the subsequent employment discrimination trial this year plant management blatantly denied the incident ever took place.
After the case was first made public in March last year, a Nokia (China) spokesperson promised to investigate and rectify any errors made by staff members. And Nokia now claims that it has stopped testing for Hepatitis B as part of its pre-employment evaluation, offers awareness training for staff and voluntary HBV vaccinations for employees in China. While we welcome this development, we note that even after this stated policy change, a prospective employee claimed he was refused employment because he told the interviewer he had HBV. Moreover, Nokia still refuses to accept that it was at fault in the case that promoted the policy change.
In this case, the plaintiff claimed that a human resources officer at Nokia (China) Telecommunication Co. Ltd., Dongguan (a woman surnamed Wei) clearly stated that he could not have the job he'd been offered because he was a HBV carrier. Journalists from two prominent local newspapers, Yangcheng Evening News and Zhengzhou Evening News, then called the Nokia branch and spoke with Miss Wei who confirmed in one interview that HBV carriers were not allowed to work at Nokia.
However during the court hearing in August this year, Nokia sought to avoid its responsibility by saying that Miss Wei never worked for Nokia, even though she was identified by the plaintiff and by two journalists. This type of dishonest behavior is completely inconsistent with Nokia's goal of being a leader in setting industry standards that have a positive impact on society.
The second phase of the hearing got underway on 6 October 2008 at Dongguan Municipal Intermediate People's Court, and China Labour Bulletin calls on Nokia to live up to its own standards and "do the right thing" – adequately compensate the victim of this discrimination case and ensure that all those working for Nokia in China, throughout the entire supply chain, work under “safe, supportive and encouraging labor conditions.”
There are more than 130 million people in China living with HBV. If Nokia refuses to do the right thing, its reputation in China and around the world could be severely tarnished.