- Recent media reports have raised concerns about working conditions at Turkish shipyards, where Norwegian vessels, including ferries, have been constructed over the past decade.
- While cost advantages attract Norwegian shipowners to Turkish yards, allegations of low wages and inadequate health and safety practices have prompted a closer look at the ethical aspects of shipbuilding partnerships.
Mandates of the Norwegian Transparency Act
The Norwegian Transparency Act, in effect since July 2022, imposes obligations on larger companies, including Norwegian shipowners engaged with foreign shipyards, to adhere to human rights due diligence as outlined in the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. This necessitates a comprehensive assessment of potential negative impacts on basic rights, severity determination, and the implementation of corrective measures to ensure ethical and responsible business practices.
To comply with these mandates, shipowners are advised to undertake various due diligence measures. This includes conducting rigorous background checks on potential shipyards to identify and mitigate risks related to human rights and working conditions. Additionally, incorporating contractual terms in shipbuilding agreements that grant shipowners access to information, due diligence rights, and site visit privileges can enhance oversight. These terms should also extend to sub-suppliers to maintain ethical standards throughout the supply chain. Measures promoting a living wage for workers, particularly in cases where low daily wages are reported, should be implemented. Shipowners should also evaluate if any commercial demands could negatively impact human rights or working conditions.
Reporting Transparency and Gard’s Guidance
Under the Transparency Act, shipowners are required to publish due diligence accounts annually by June 30, emphasizing transparency and public access to information. In this context, Gard, as part of its sustainability and ESG principles, provides guidance and questionnaires for shipowners when contracting or assessing repair yard suppliers. By aligning with the Transparency Act and publishing an annual Human Rights Due Diligence report, Gard aims to enhance transparency, accountability, and a responsible approach to shipbuilding partnerships.
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