By Harald Eraker
- We believe that means as strong as loss of contract is necessary to bring about a change in the problem of child labour, says information manager Sjur Rosholt in Statkraft to NorWatch.
Nepalese carriers are used to transport equipment through the rugged mountain terrain to the Khimti Khola project. The project is owned 73% by Statkraft. Statkraft has given these assignments to subcontractors who hire local carriers.
But even though Nepalese law does not permit children below the age of 16 to work, children under this age have been observed working for Statkraft, by Redd Barna (the organisation Save the Children) among others.
- We probably underestimated the problem of child labour when we entered into the project, and we have not been clever enough at controlling this, Rosholt admits, pointing out that this is a complex problem because of poverty and traditions in Nepal.
- For many families, starvation is the alternative to letting their children work. But our policy is clear: In our activity, we will not make use of child labour, there is no discussion about that, Rosholt asserts.
He says that the Statkraft management has considered the issue, and that they will discuss the use of control mechanisms and economic sanctions in Himal Power Ltd., the joint venture company that owns the Khimti Khola project. With Statkraft's majority share in Himal Power, there are no obstacles to breaching contracts with subcontractors who make use of child labour.
- The hidden threat is loss of contract, information manager Rosholt concludes, and he confirms that in case this is effected, it will be the first time in Statkraft's history that the company's ethical principles are implemented by using threats of this kind.
"Obviously, we cannot live with child labour."
Information manager Sjur Rosholt in Statkraft to NorWatch, 15.8.97
Statkraft in Nepal
The river power station Khimti Khola is owned by the company Himal Power Ltd., which in turn is owned 73% by Statkraft, 5% by Kværner, 5% by ABB Kraft, and 17% by the Nepalese company Butwal Power Co. NORAD has supported the power station with 230 million kroner.
Norwatch Newsletter 12/97