#nofilter: The long road to improved working conditions

Corporate social responsibility efforts are largely based on a s.c. risk country evaluation. In wine production, for instance South Africa, Chile and Argentina are risk countries. Other risk regions are e.g. Middle American countries that produce sugar cane and distill rums.

In addition to wineries Alko audits vineyards. According to our auditing practice the producer to be audited and the Finnish importer who represents them are informed approximately six months beforehand about an upcoming social audit. They are also supported in many ways to get familiar with the requirements of Business Social Compliance Initiative BSCI so that they could be prepared and develop their working conditions to meet its ethical principles.

The most serious issue that has arisen in our social audits, a s.c. BSCI zero tolerance finding, has been about verbal abuse and degrading treatment of workers. Other zero tolerance violations like bonded or child labor, or working conditions that pose an immediate health or safety risk, have not been found. We usually schedule the audits to take place during harvesting when the need for workforce is at peak. The working conditions of seasonal workers are an equally important part of the audited entity as those of permanent workers. In future we will commission audits also during the growing season. Then e.g. careful handling of cultivation chemicals and protective equipment used by workers are important aspects.

In the light of the audit results we must identify whether a failure to comply with the principles is a question of information and requirements not reaching the producers, a genuine lack of resources or something else. Improvers of working conditions in primary production in different corners of the globe still have a long journey ahead.

We in Alko want to promote a responsible supply chain based on a principle of continuous improvement. Join the discussion via our Twitter channel @Alko_Sustain with hashtags #nofilter #Alkochallenge #transparency.