Friday, October 28, 2016

Sharon Burrow – Samsung attack on unions

The founder of Samsung once reportedly declared the company would "recognise trade unions over my dead body!" Now, leaked internal documents at Samsung reveal the extreme lengths the company will go to exert total control over workers’ lives – especially those who want to form a union.

The PowerPoint presentation – intended for the eyes of corporate bosses only – decrees specific "countermeasures" to be used to "dominate employees". And the language is shocking. The leaked material instructs managers to "isolate employees," "punish leaders," and "induce internal conflicts".

With a precariously-employed workforce, inhumane conditions are rife. According to China Labor Watch, employees at Samsung factories, some under-aged, suffer through 100 hours of forced overtime per month, unpaid work, standing for 11 to 12 hours, verbal and physical abuse, severe age and gender discrimination, lack of worker safety.... 

During a three-month period while the Samsung Galaxy tablet was being rushed out, one worker testified that she “slept about two or three hours a night”, and had to stop breastfeeding her three-month-old infant to keep up with schedule.

Samsung has a reputation for modern technology, but also a history of medieval conditions for the estimated 1,500,000 workers entrenched in a vast and shadowy web of subcontractors and subsidiaries that runs deep throughout the region. 

What's more, the Asia Resource Monitor Centre reports that Samsung's "no-union" policy affects the entire Asian electronics industry, "because Samsung Electronics intervenes actively to prevent the formation of unions at its suppliers".

Samsung is everywhere. If you have a smartphone – an Android or iPhone – there's a good chance that parts in your phone are produced on factory floors controlled by Samsung and its affiliated companies. Now it's up to all of us to tell Samsung enough is enough.

Thank you for all you do,
Sharan Burrow

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