Valio’s Thailand subcontractors criticised for labour rights violations

An investigation found violations in the way that migrant workers were treated producing ingredients for Valio's cooking cream.

File picture showing exterior of Valio headquarters in Helsinki / Credit: Valio

Dairy company Valio has been criticised for doing business with companies in Asia, where workers rights are abused.

It follows an investigation by Finnwatch, a non-profit organisation investigating the global impact of Finnish enterprises.

Finnwatch says that two Valio subcontractors in Asia had shortcomings with the way they treat their staff.

Takerngia Pineapple and Ingredion both produce ingredients for Valio cooking cream, but Finnwatch says they’re in breach of several Thai labour laws.

At Takerngia the factory operations halt for three months during pineapple off-season, and the workers are not paid during that time. Finnwatch also says there have been recruitment-related fees charged to workers instead of the employer.

At Ingredion, migrant workers are employed via a subcontracting system which is illegal under Thai law. The company also doesn’t pay overtime, or social security benefits for the workers.

“We take human human rights seriously and we have taken steps to remedy the situation” says Valio CEO Kirti Rautio.

“We have already been in contact with the raw material suppliers and demanded that the grievances be corrected” says Rautio.

In a statement, Valio says the findings of Finnwatch’s investigation came as a surprise to them, as both factories in Thailand had been subjected to social responsibility auditing which revealed none of the problems which Finnwatch uncovered.

“We are going to make an evaluation of our human rights in our supply chain” says CEO Kirti Rautio.

The Finnwatch investigation was carried out in cooperation with the Migrant Worker Rights Network MWRN.