Human Rights ranks high on our priority list and we consider it a fundamental responsibility. With majority of our operations in developing countries, we are acutely sensitive about upholding human rights and it has been a material aspect across all our business decisions.
Our Human Rights Policy is aligned to the UN Guiding Principles on business and human rights, and includes strict prohibition of child or forced labour - either directly or through contract labour.
Additionally, our Code of Business Conduct and Ethics (Code) commits us to comply with all relevant national laws and regulations, underpinning our approach to protect the fundamental rights of all our direct and indirect employees, communities and immediate supply chain.
We foster constructive relations with all employees and labour unions. There is zero room for human rights violations at our operations. Unfortunate cases of non-compliance, if they occur, are dealt with severely as we have proper mechanisms like employee grievance processes, collective bargaining and contract labour management cell at all our operations.
Collective Bargaining
We uphold worker rights to freedom of association at all our operations. Collective bargaining is a key mechanism through which we engage with our workforce, and ensure fair remuneration and working conditions. It offers the opportunity to create a better work environment in terms of improving productivity, health and safety, working conditions, remuneration, allowances, incentives and bonuses.
We have a collective bargaining mechanism at our various operations and the percentage of workforce covered by the mechanism include:
HZL 49%  |  Zinc International 47%  |  KCM 86%  |  CMT 38%  |  Sesa Iron Ore 69%  |  BALCO 56%
We aim to have constructive relations with all employees and labour unions, in the locations where we operate and ensure that compensation for workers meets or exceeds, the legal requirements.
The collective bargaining agreements are negotiated and agreed by the management and union representatives. The agreements include clauses relating to remuneration, allowances, working conditions, incentives and bonuses, health and safety, manpower productivity etc.
Other locations which do not have collective bargaining agreements, have adequate systems and processes for employee development, appraisal, remuneration and grievance redressal. A mechanism is in place to make employees aware of any significant operational changes like restructuring, mergers and acquisitions, expansions and the like.
Notification periods for such events are contained in collective bargaining agreements and certified standing orders of respective entities. For example, in India the notification period is 21 days, in Zambia and Namibia it is 30 days, whereas in South Africa it is 90 days.
Child and Forced Labour
Be it direct or through a contractor - child, forced or compulsory labour is a non-negotiable offence at Vedanta. We have proper systems at all our operations. Further, we carry out periodic inspections of our remote mine locations and require proof of age for all contract workers. Our Suppliers' Code of Conduct ensures that all our suppliers also commit to the same norms. Our significant suppliers and contractors generally include well-reputed and well-governed organisations, with systems and practices, comparable to our own.
Supplier Diligence
Although all our significant suppliers have adequate systems to safeguard the human rights of their workforce, we ensure due diligence by conducting inductions, screenings, inspections and audits on a case to case basis.
We respond to concerns raised by interested parties on any of our key suppliers by undertaking an independent assessment.
At Sterlite Copper, we use
a fool-proof radiological
age identification process
to assess child labour violations.
Last year, 100% of our
new suppliers were
assessed on health,
safety, environmental,
human rights & labour
rights related aspects.
We encourage suppliers to adopt principles and practices comparable to our own. The Supplier Code is implemented as part of the terms and conditions of supplier contracts across the Group and all new suppliers are required to sign, endorse and practice this Code. We also have in place, a Supplier & Contractor Sustainability Management Policy. Both the Code as well as the Policy clearly communicate our expectations from our suppliers: to operate in compliance with all relevant legislations and follow our policies while executing work for or on behalf of Vedanta.
The Supplier and Contractor Technical Standard further includes a Supplier Screening Checklist to evaluate contractor compliance relating to key issues e.g. legal compliance, HSE management, labour management, human rights and child labour. This checklist is used by operations to screen suppliers and contractors as part of a prequalification process prior to awarding work.
The organisations that engage with us to supply raw materials or provide processing services are primarily well-established, reputable organisations with robust human rights and fair practice mechanisms.
We respect the norms, culture and heritage of local communities. Our Cultural Heritage Standard, Land & Resettlement Management Standard, and Indigenous People and Vulnerable Tribal Groups Standard have been developed in alignment with international good practices including ICMM and IFC standards, and are implemented across the businesses.
Indigenous Peoples and Vulnerable Tribal Groups (IPs/ VTGs)
The Group's standards and guidance note on the subject was rolled out to support the implementation of our related technical standard. The core aim of the standard is to enable our project teams to engage, negotiate and partner with these vulnerable groups in a manner that avoids negative impacts and risks for all stakeholders, especially the indigenous peoples and vulnerable tribes.
We have made special provisions for minorities and marginalised groups. To safeguard their rights, we follow the principle of Good Faith Negotiation (GFN), Informed Consultation and Participation (ICP) and/or Free, Prior Information and Consultation (FPIC).
Land Acquisition and Resettlement
We have never enforced any involuntary resettlement on any local community. We have committed to not mine bauxite at Niyamgiri without the consent of local communities. The current planned expansion of the refinery has no potential impact on indigenous people and vulnerable tribal groups. The public hearing was organised by the government officials as per the regulatory framework in which consent for expansion was provided by the local community. Bauxite is abundantly available in other parts of Odisha and we continue our engagement with the State Government to secure alternative supplies supporting ramp-up of our Lanjigarh refinery.
Security Practices
Human Rights training is an integral part of our Sustainable Development Framework implementation, and is part of training on our Code of Business Conduct and Ethics provided to our employees and contract workforce. Last year, 42,240 man-hours of training was provided towards this end. The employees who received this training range from our on-site security guards to our transport workforce, wherein we have previously identified some risks of child labour.
We have also defined training and competency requirements for security personnel addressing community health, safety and security, and other human rights requirements, where appropriate.
In 2016, all security guards in the Group received training on these aspects. It is worth noting that across the Group, we generally work with private and professional security companies (rather than local security forces or military). Our security personnel are not typically armed and we have not experienced significant human rights abuses involving our security personnel.
Last year, we conducted an internal assessment of human rights practices. Businesses across geographies mapped their practices against the UN Guiding Principle on Business and Human Rights. The assessment confirmed that the Human Rights Policy is being effectively implemented by all units. However, the need for periodic internal capacity building around implementing our human rights standards is required. The review also helped us in strengthening our existing systems and delivering focussed training for our staff.
The outcomes of this assessment which include best practices and suggestions, are serving as guide posts for all our businesses to enhance their compliance status.
security guards
underwent training
Modern Slavery Act has been constituted by the UK parliament to tackle the issues of slavery and trafficking. It directs corporations to prepare a Slavery and Trafficking Statement mentioning the steps taken by them to ensure that slavery and human trafficking is not taking place, either in their business or across any of their supply chains.
The law will help improve investor confidence as well as protect and grow the organisation's customer base as more consumers seek out businesses with higher ethical standards. It will also manifest in greater staff retention and loyalty, based on values and respect, and facilitate development of more responsive, stable and innovative supply chains. Most importantly, it will help us protect and enhance our reputation and brand.
At Vedanta Resources, we propose to incorporate the Modern Slavery Act 2015 in our operations through:
  • Inclusion of modern slavery act as an element in the Code of Business Conduct & Ethics
  • Revision of Group's Human Rights Policy and Sustainability Supplier & Management Policy
  • Rolling out of a uniform sustainability screening checklist for all new suppliers and contractors
  • Uniform implementation and usage of screening checklist by commercial teams
  • Verification and audit of Sustainability Supply Chain programme, and internal and external periodic assessment of supply chain
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