Global Network Urges Electronics Supply Chain to Respect Workers’ Rights

In the Nokia Special Economic Zone in Chennai, India, at least two different companies are reportedly intimidating workers, suspending them from the job, arresting them for criminal charges, or dismissing them from their jobs in response to workers’ demand for union recognition and improved working conditions.

In Taiwan, touch panel maker YFO supplying Samsung and HTC is doing union busting. Lennon Wong, of Young Fast Optoelectronic Trade Union, said they began forming a union in 2009. As soon as they did, the company sacked five union officers and 14 members. In the face of protests YFO reinstated one of the officers it dismissed, but according to Wong, she was assigned to work in an isolated place without a single co-worker, and there were several video cameras monitoring her all day. “YFO continues to persuade the remaining union officers to take some money and leave for good. Apparently, being a big supplier of Samsung, LG, HTC, Nokia, Acer and Asus, YFO does not want a union to exist in its plant at all,” Wong told Bulatlat.

He added that the forced overtime in YFO is so “terrible” that it could add up to a hundred hours in a week. He said child workers are also being forced to work, often even longer hours than the adult workers. Despite their long and toxic working conditions, all of the workers receive pay that are “lower than regulated by law,” said Wong.

In JVC Malaysia, member of the JVC-Kenwood Group producing cameras, video and audio equipment, migrant workers who complained against “wrongful deductions” from their wages are being threatened with forced repatriation, according to Charles Hector of Network of Action for Migrants.

In India, managers in Foxconn have “vehemently opposed unionism,” said Jenny Holdcroft of the International Metal Workers Federation.

In China, Debby Chan of SACOM said there is practically no freedom of association as the unions they have are “mostly appointed by the management and do not really represent the workers.”

In the Philippines, there are additional obstacles to union organizing aside from those being thrown at their fellow workers’ way in other countries. The issue of extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances of labor advocates and leaders is “very exceptional,” noted Pauleen Overeem, a Dutch human rights defender from the Good Electronics.

While intimidation, repression, termination, violence and being hauled off to jail also happen to workers forming unions in other countries, Overeem observed that “it doesn’t get as bad as here in the Philippines.”

Generally, the electronics industry is a no-union, no-strike industry in the Philippines, said Cecil Tuico of WAC. With the exception of NXP (formerly Philips) in Laguna Science Industrial Park, Tuico explained that there is an “unwritten policy” against unionizing in the Philippines’ economic zones. Workers of NXP had formed their union in the 80s when its plant was still in Manila.

The Good Electronics meeting reported that it has successfully forged “plans to work on the industry workers’ right to associate (or form union), to work on their wages which are either below minimum in conditions where the minimum wages are already adjudged as below the actual amount needed to live decently.” Vowing to continue information-sharing and research, members of the network said they would also try to talk with governments and “put pressure” on electronics companies, “to make them look at the industry from the perspective of its workers.” (

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