News Item: : [color=red][center]Two more workers' deaths linked to Telenor[/center][/color]
Monday 23 June 2008 - 11:28:02
Two workers at the Telenor-owned mobile phone company in Bangladesh, GrameenPhone, were killed on the job last month, Telenor confirmed Tuesday. The deaths are the latest in a series of fatal accidents at Telenor's operations abroad.
Working conditions at GrameenPhone have been called into question of late.
Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv reported that two workers were mounting a billboard promoting GrameenPhone when they lost their footing and fell from a height of 10 meters.
A Telenor official wasn't aware of the two deaths last month when first contacted by the newspaper, but later confirmed them.
That brings to seven the number of workers tied to Telenor who have lost their lives while carrying out their jobs. The Norwegian company has been fending off reports the past few weeks of bad working conditions at its overseas subsidiaries and suppliers.
"When management in Telenor doesn't even have an overview of how many have died, it's a good and tragic example of how scandalously poor Telenor's control has been," Alexander Cappelen, a professor at the Center for Ethics at Norwegian business school NHH (Norges Handelshøyskole), told Dagens Næringsliv.
Hans Mathias Thjømøe of another business school, BI, had a different opinion. "Telenor... operates in 12 countries and employs around 100,000 persons in Bangladesh," he wrote in newspaper Aftenposten on Tuesday. "They buy products and services all over the world, so to demand that they have an overview over absolutely everything is completely unreasonable."
Telenor's labour scandal deepens
Norwegian telecoms firm Telenor had its reputation further tarnished over the weekend after reports emerged of more deaths of workers tied to Telenor's overseas subsidiaries.
Telenor chief executive Jon Fredrik Baksaas faced more bad news over the weekend.
Telenor, Peace Prize winner caught in labour scandal - 14.05.2008
The first reports were linked to Telenor's operations in Bangladesh, where workers are forced to put up with conditions at Telenor suppliers that would never be condoned in Norway. Telenor has claimed that it wasn't aware that children were part of the workforce at a supplier to its GrameenPhone unit there, nor that workers operated in unsafe conditions. One young man was killed when he fell into a vat of acid.
Telenor itself unveiled two more workers' deaths last week, at operations in Bangladesh and Hungary. Among them was a male worker at Telenor's Pannon operation in Hungary, who died in a fall on the construction site of Telenor's new headquarters for Pannon.
In other deaths, a 10-year-old girl was electrocuted on GrameenPhone property in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv also revealed two more deaths of GrameenPhone workers in Bangladesh: One died from an electric shock suffered on the job, while another fell from a mobile phone tower he was working on.
Telenor has said it is investigating all the cases, and promises that working conditions for its overseas employees will be improved. So far, however, the fatal accidents haven't taken a toll on Telenor's management, and chief executive Jon Fredrik Baksaas kept his job after an emergency board meeting last week.
Telenor is majority-owned by the state, prompting opposition politicians to demand that the government controlling Telenor's board take punitive action against Telenor's management. Many feel the Telenor labour scandal is hurting Norway's reputation overseas.
Aftenposten English Web Desk
This news item is from Internet Service Providers Association Bangladesh
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