Accepted paper:

Shifting from labour rights to human rights in non-financial reporting in Norwegian energy companies

Authors:

Ingrid Birce Muftuoglu (Universitet i Bergen)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores the ethical implications of the shift from labour rights to human rights in corporate reporting by analysing the tensions between global frameworks for corporate responsibility and the Nordic tripartite model where employee rights traditionally have been in focus of dialogue.

Paper long abstract:

This paper looks at ethical implications of the shift from labour rights to human rights in non-financial reporting in the state owned Norwegian hydropower company Statkraft. It analyses how this shift reflects tensions between global frameworks for corporate responsibility and the Nordic tripartite model for company-labour unions-state interaction, where employee rights have been in focus of dialogue. Insight into how corporate responsibility is articulated and performed is based on fieldwork at sites such as Statkraft's head office in Oslo, its country offices in Istanbul and Ankara and local communities in Osmancik affected by the hydropower plant Kargi HEP. Statkraft relates to international standards for sustainability reporting, following the Global Reporting Initiative since 2006. Statkraft's annual reports however, exclude central tenets of the 'Nordic model' such as labour rights, which are replaced by a focus on human rights. While labour rights are group based, have a national/regional focus and are statutory, human rights address individual rights, have an international focus and are integrated into the voluntary global frameworks for responsible business. Thus, highlighting one model rather than the other has ethical implications on how the company interprets responsibility. As frameworks for 'doing good' are constantly changing, a certain degree of pragmatism drives initiatives in the non-profit area, making it easier to perform on human rights standards. Simultaneously, a corporate pragmatic attitude may empty all attempts to fill corporate responsibility with meaning, and the right to unionize could potentially be delegitimised through reporting regimes where human rights discourses are emphasised.

panel P060
Globalized workers and trade unionism