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[South Korea] SHARPS To Have Dialogue With Samsung

[South Korea] SHARPS To Have Dialogue With Samsung | Asian Labour Update | Scoop.it

   After six years of campaigns and petitions over 56 occupational-disease deaths at the world’s largest chipmaker, SHARPS has agreed to enter dialogue with Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. over the question of compensation for the victims of the company’s blood-disorder clusters and their families.

   “Samsung’s dialogue proposal is the result of six years of our ceaseless efforts,” said SHARPS at a press conference January 22.

“Samsung has treated my daughter’s leukemia as though it was a random disease,” said Hwang Sang-ki, who lost her daughter Yumi to occupationally caused leukemia at Samsung.  “They also treated me like a heinous fraudster,” said the 58-year-old taxi driver whose lone outcry for her daughter’s untimely death six years ago led to the formation of SHARPS.

   “Because the public has been scorning Samsung, thanks to our long campaign, the company agreed to dialogue,” Hwang concluded.

Ploys

   This is not the first time Samsung sought out direct dialogue with SHARPS.  And to date, all proposals have come up with ploys.  In September 2012, through its lawyers, Samsung proposed to seek arbitration on an appeal lawsuit brought by SHARPS, on behalf of a leukemia victim’s family, against the Korea Labor Welfare Corporation, the South Korean government’s workers compensation entity.  SHARPS rejected the proposal because Samsung, a third party to the lawsuit, called for dropping the lawsuit.  In October 2012, Samsung leaked a false story to the media, claiming that it has begun dialogue with SHARPS.

   It was November of last year when Samsung sent SHARPS a written request for dialogue through a lawyer representing the company in the appeal lawsuit.  In December, SHARPS accepted the proposal.  In January 2013, Samsung complied with SHARPS’s request and confirmed SHARPS’s acceptance in writing.

   In a letter dated January 11, Choi Wu-su, president of Samsung’s device solution unit, said the company tapped an in-house lawyer and a human resources executive for dialogue with SHARPS.

   However, the company appears to be continuing its maneuvering by leaking unsubstantiated leads to the media.   On January 22, the independentHankyoreh described a new remarkable proposal under consideration at Samsung for the occupational disease victims, citing an anonymous Samsung executive.  “If necessary, we can raise a special fund for the people who developed leukemia not just at Samsung but also anywhere at home and abroad,” the newspaper quoted the unnamed source as saying.

   Over the past six years,  SHARPS has profiled 155 workers who contracted various forms of leukemia, multiple sclerosis, and aplastic anemia after employment in the South Korean electronics industry.  As of June 2012, 63 of the 155 have died.  The majority of the workers, 138, were employed at Samsung Electronics, Samsung Electro-Mechanics, and Samsung SDS—the three electronics affiliates of the Samsung Group, the country’s largest conglomerate.  Of the 63 deaths, 56 were Samsung employees.

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[China] 1,000 workers hold managers hostage in Shanghai labour row

[China] 1,000 workers hold managers hostage in Shanghai labour row | Asian Labour Update | Scoop.it

   More than 1,000 furious migrant workers besieged a factory in Shanghai and held 18 Japanese and Chinese managers against their will for more than a day, after the workers were required to abide by unequal regulations.

   The workers of Japanese electronic appliance maker Shanghai Shinmei Electric staged a strike and besieged the factory for two days, starting around 8am on Friday morning, following the introduction of a new factory policy calling for heavy fines, demerits or immediate termination for workers who made a mistake, the Japan-based Asahi Shimbun reported yesterday.

   At least one Chinese manager with hypertension passed out after being forcibly detained along with the 17 others - seven Chinese and 10 Japanese - in two office rooms between Friday and Saturday. The company's president, Hideaki Tamura, was among those held.

   On Saturday night, more than 400 Shanghai police officers freed the managers.

   Tamura told the Asahi Shimbun by phone that more than 500 workers besieged his office, and the managers were not allowed to use the toilet. Tamura was locked in his office with six other Japanese managers and five Chinese, while the remaining six were locked in another room.

The report said the factory's new disciplinary policy was part of a reform scheme after the appliance maker was acquired by a Chinese company last year.

   Angry workers were cited by the BBC as saying that the new factory regulations, with what they said were 49 unequal clauses, triggered the protest.

   Another assembly worker, who declined to be named, said they were also angry over the acquisition. She said workers feared that they would no longer enjoy the benefits accumulated in their previous years working in the factory after they signed a new contract following the acquisition by a Chinese firm in Dalian, Liaoning province.

   She said that several of her colleagues were injured when the anti-riot police rushed into the factory. One worker allegedly suffered broken ribs and another suffered a head injury.

Another worker wrote via a microblog about the desperate situation management allegedly put them in.

   "We earn less than 2,000 yuan [HK$2,468] a month, but we could be subjected to fines of 50 to 100 yuan for arriving late or spending more than two minutes in the toilet," the post said.

   The company issued a statement yesterday apologising to workers for the new regulations, with a promise that their salaries would be increased.

 

http://www.scmp.com/news/china/article/1132587/1000-workers-hold-managers-hostage-shanghai-labour-row

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I designed that cheap garment. I lit that factory fire in Bangladesh

I designed that cheap garment. I lit that factory fire in Bangladesh | Asian Labour Update | Scoop.it
I would like to confess to lighting the recent fire that lead to the many deaths at the Tazreen Fashions Ltd. factory in Bangladesh. I am neither Bangladeshi nor a factory worker, and I have never set foot in the building that was set ablaze in late November. Nonetheless, I have ashen thoughts and blood on my hands. I would like to confess to lighting the recent fire that lead to the many deaths at the Tazreen Fashions Ltd. factory in Bangladesh. I am neither Bangladeshi nor a factory worker, and I have never set foot in the building that was set ablaze in late November. Nonetheless, I have ashen thoughts and blood on my hands. Bangladesh factory where 110 died in fire was repeatedly cited by safety auditors Bangladesh factory fire that killed 111 caused by sabotage, inquiry chief says The real cost of our 'fast fashion' consumption culture As clothing designer for the Canadian arm of a multinational clothing retailer, my work consists of taking fashion styles in the marketplace and adapting them for our customers’ pocketbooks. I design inexpensive clothes destined to be manufactured by the most competitive manufacturers, in what we call “offshore” factories. The company that pays my salary was a client of Tazreen until the fire, as were many Canadian retailers. I know what the smoke smelled like as it hit the nostrils of the factory workers. I even know what the smoke looks like from synthetic fibres catching on fire. I was in a factory in India when an electrical fire started. The clouds of smoke pushed their way up from the basement into the design studio on the third floor. As we rushed down the stairs, we had to pass the grey mist of synthetic fibres that had caught fire and were reborn in a thick and acrid cloud pushing its way out of the building. I remember waiting for the fire trucks to come and watching as the sewers rubbed their hair with blackened hands to get out the white ash. Prematurely grey Indian faces in colourful saris with kabuki-like makeup stood silent with the circle of survivors. The shock and the sudden disconnection from work had lent a dreamlike veil over the scene. In a Canadian setting, this surrealistic silence would have been broken by a fire engine or two. Not on this side of the planet. On this side of the world, a senior factory worker figured out the source of the electrical fire and, with the help of his colleagues, put out the blaze in relative silence, as one would have during a yoga class. Two official cars did arrive after the fire was contained. Inside were police officers, but these officers were not there to help put out the fire – they had come for the customary bribe so this incident would not be officially recorded. The loudest part of the day was the sound of the officers’ steps, heavy with their loot, as they left the building. In Bangladesh, stories circulate that the Tazreen fire was arson. My point is, this fire was lit by me. I am the one who asked our factories to make a $9 blouse, and, by default, Bangladesh is one of two countries in which clothing can be imported duty free. My employers are happy that we will have this item on the floor en masse for next season’s sales. Our customers have forced us to hack down the prices to be competitive in this market of cheap clothing and off-price bargaining that we call the Canadian clothing sector. Popular thinking is that clothing at this level, since it is mass produced, is automated. The truth is that most of the procedures used to make these garments that fuelled the Tazreen fire passed through the now deceased workers’ hands. Perhaps one of the perished women was sewing the back neck of a garment to its collar. This operation in Bangladesh costs a fraction of a cent compared with what it would cost in Canada. I wonder whether she was holding on to the collar that I had asked her to sew to meet my cost target when she died. I know that our shipments are sometimes rushed at the last minute to make the vessel. Maybe that’s why the managers asked some of the workers to stay seated when the fire started. We have third-party inspections and in-house compliance staff, and our company is world class. This means that factories are inspected on a routine basis. I wonder: Where were the inspectors that day? Perhaps they were at one of the other hundred factories that are officially working for us. For sure, they were not at the thousand factories that we have not asked to be used as subcontractors. The point is clear. I confess to the murder. The reason is clear. The collar that the Bangladeshi woman was holding as the smoke pushed through her lungs was destined for a killer-priced shirt next season. Sujeet Sennik is a designer and writer
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Outsourcing for Capital Accumulation: Call Center in the Philippines

Outsourcing for Capital Accumulation: Call Center in the Philippines | Asian Labour Update | Scoop.it
Move over India - Manila is the new call centre capital of the world. With its English-speaking workforce, geopolitical stability and embracement of Western culture, the Philippines is fast becoming the world’s hottest destination for call centres. Established in just a decade, the outsourcing industry now employs 420,000 workers and accounts for five percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP), or roughly $11bn in revenue. The country is also an attractive backroom for small- to medium-sized companies in Western countries because it is a comfortable timezone to work in and there is cost savings of up to 70 percent. While the Philippines leads other Asian outsourcing countries in voice oriented services- the country is looking to diversify and offer more complex creative services like animation, game development, copywriting, graphic and engineering design. An estimated 80 percent of all call centres are in Manila, but outsourcing hubs are also opening in the provinces, bringing roads, airports and jobs to poor areas. This offers new opportunities and starting salaries that are roughly 40 percent higher than the country's minimum wage. While the Philippines leads other Asian outsourcing countries in voice-oriented services, the country is looking to diversify and offer more complex creative services such as animation, game development, copywriting, and graphic and engineering design. While outsourcing has stopped a brain drain that affects other Asian countries, there are concerns that the growing industry will have an impact on other professions which need educated professionals. But critics, including local industry leaders, argue that universities and the government have not done enough to foster innovation or to educate the emerging workforce in critical thinking. With just five out of 100 job applicants making the cut as call centre workers, 101 East examines the limitations facing outsourcing in the Philippines.
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Europe for Dhaka to make tougher laws

Europe for Dhaka to make tougher laws | Asian Labour Update | Scoop.it
The European Parliament yesterday backed a call to encourage tougher safety laws and proper inspections in Bangladesh and Pakistan, following deadly fires in garment factories in Dhaka and Karachi. Liberal democrat Phil Bennion, a member of the Parliament's South Asia Delegation, made the call at the European Parliament. He was co-sponsor of a resolution on the tragedies debated at the Parliament this week. The motion was passed by an overwhelming majority of MEPs in a vote. In his speech, Bennion welcomed a recent tripartite statement from the government, employers and workers in Bangladesh and urged the Pakistan government to take similar action. He negotiated on behalf of the ALDE (Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe) group of MEPs on the compromise text voted through yesterday. He also discussed the proposals with Bangladesh's ambassador to the EU, Ismat Jehan, at a meeting earlier this week. He said, “Having asked since November for a resolution on these terrible factory fires in Dhaka and Karachi, I am very happy it was included in the agenda. “Hundreds of people could have been saved if only basic fire safety standards had been in place. “I certainly welcome recent efforts in Bangladesh to improve basic standards in factories and for instance the tripartite fire safety statement of Commitment signed this week by the government, employers and workers. I urge the Pakistani government to take similar actions. “We should not allow such disasters, where doors are locked and fire exits do not exist, to ever happen again. "Basic safety and health standards must be respected and more needs to be done in this respect. “More also needs to be done to fight the endemic corruption of the inspection system in these countries, including the auditing pursued by Western brands. “However, I would like to be clear. Contrary to some in this Chamber, I am firmly opposed to depicting multinationals or any other company involved in global trade, as evil entities." Bennion said Labour, the Greens and their allies on the left had tried to use the resolution as an opportunity to criticise companies' subcontracting, restructuring plans and consultation mechanisms with trade unions here in Europe, rather than deal with the key problems on the ground. "They were suggesting that we should enforce European standards on companies in Bangladesh. Such an approach would damage both trade and the Bangladeshi economy." “On behalf of the Liberal Democrats, I pushed for the final text to include the important role that consumers can play in improving health and safety. Consumers can encourage companies to use their corporate social responsibility policies to ensure products are manufactured to core ILO Labour Standards. Consumer power is increasingly effective. “I call on both the European Commission to continue to support factory safety in Bangladesh, and on the European External Action Service, through its dialogue with the Bangladeshi authorities, to support European Companies willing to develop initiatives tackling the very serious issue of basic fire safety standards."
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Electrolux imprisons then sacks workers in Thailand

Electrolux imprisons then sacks workers in Thailand | Asian Labour Update | Scoop.it

   Refusing to negotiate with workers’ representatives, Electrolux management in Thailand locked up over 100 workers for 8 hours, including a pregnant woman, then sacked 127 workers including the local union president of the Rayong plant.

   In a letter addressed to the company management in Sweden, which is signatory to an International Framework Agreement on workers’ rights, IndustriALL Global Union joined with Swedish union IF Metall in expressing outrage at the unjust and anti-union actions of Electrolux Thailand.

   On 11 January 2013 Electrolux Thailand management called a meeting of all workers at 8am and announced a two-month bonus, but then refused to discuss the workers demands for fair wage increases and permanent employment for agency workers after 6 months.

   Instead the managers forcibly removed the union president, Phaiwan Metha, from the meeting throwing him onto the street and dismissing him. When the gathered workers learnt of the dismissal they continued to sit on the floor and demanded his reinstatement and return.

   Management then called security and police and surrounded the workers, preventing them from leaving for 8 hours, including a pregnant woman in her sixth month who tried to leave. At 5pm the workers were released, one by one by the security guards. The workers returned to work on 14 January to find written dismissal notice for 127 workers.

   The dismissals followed more than a month of efforts by the union to negotiate on the new minimum wage and annual wage adjustments due to be implemented by 25 January 2013. The management had refused to accept the proposals by the union and instead attempted to impose wage adjustments that had not been agreed to.

   In the letter to Electrolux IndustriALL General Secretary Jyrki Raina states that the company’s actions “constitutes a crystal clear union-busting attempt to force upon workers an unfair collective bargaining process”.

   “I strongly urge you to use your influence to immediately reinstate the dismissed workers and union members and return to the collective bargaining table to achieve a fair and just resolution of this conflict as well as create a constructive relationship between labour and management,” writes Raina.

The union at the plant in Thailand was formed in 2010 at which time it managed to negotiate a collective agreement that is due for renewal this year.    The products of the Electrolux plant include washing machines, refrigerators and other electrical appliances for European and Asian markets.

The dismissed workers are now fighting against the management’s unjust union busting tactics and have submitted their grievances to the Parliament’s Labour Commission.

 

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Cambodian Workers Expose Abuse at Walmart Factory

Hear from Sor Sokty. The 25-year-old Cambodian garment worker has been keeping vigil in front of a Walmart and H&M supplier after her employer shuttered the ...
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[Cambodia] Unpaid wages demanded

[Cambodia] Unpaid wages demanded | Asian Labour Update | Scoop.it

Bosses of an underwear factory that supplies retail giants Walmart and H&M have been accused of closing up shop and fleeing while still owing hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid wages and benefits.

Workers at the Kingsland garment factory in the capital’s Meanchey district have spent the past 10 days protesting outside the factory and setting up camp at night – to catch their bosses if they return to strip the factory of machinery.

Representatives claimed yesterday workers would be owed a combined $800,000 if the factory, which has not opened since December 29, had ceased operations.

The factory has been bereft of an independent union since representatives from what is now the Cambodia Confederation of Apparel Workers Democratic Unions (C.CAWDU) were fired or beaten in incidents in 2007 and 2008, they added.

Worker Phoung Phearum, who was one of about 50 protesting at the factory on National Road 2 yesterday, said about 30 workers had spent 10 nights sleeping outside.
“We’re staying here every day,” he said.

Workers’ representative Oun Bouy said the only union allowed in Kingsland since 2008 had been run by the wife of a manager and represented about 20 of the 700 workers.

“We want to appeal to the government to help us. We do not have money to pay for our rent, food and families.”

Moeun Tola, head of the labour program at the Community Legal Education Centre, said more than 100 workers had officially complained about the apparent closure.

“They have been struggling for a couple of weeks. Some have got temporary jobs. We expect to have more workers’ thumbprints, though,” he said.

Nick Rudikoff, global affairs co-ordinator for labour organisation Warehouse Workers United, said Walmart needed to share responsibility for what was happening at Kingsland.

“The factory owner is clearly not doing the right thing, but that’s just one part of the story,” he said. “[Walmart has] the responsibility to make sure the people who make their clothes are treated fairly.”

Kingsland’s management and its owners in Hong Kong could not be reached, while Walmart and H&M did not immediately respond to emailed questions.

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[Bangladesh] Retailers under pressure to compensate Tazreen victims

   Members of European Parliament will ask retailers to compensate the victims of the fire at Ashulia-based Tazreen Fashions, which was making clothes for global brands.

   Three groups of parliamentarians are going to adopt resolutions on the Bangladesh fire at a four-day plenary session that started yesterday.

   The European Parliament calls on all European retailers whose orders were being processed at the time of the fire to support the local authorities and involve social partners in setting up an adequate and transparent compensation scheme.

   “Such a system should cover the loss of income and damages for the injured and the families of the dead, as well as free medical rehabilitation for the injured and care and education for deceased workers' dependant family members,” one of the resolutions said.

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[Pakistan] YDA to stage sit-ins in from Jan 10

[Pakistan] YDA to stage sit-ins in from Jan 10 | Asian Labour Update | Scoop.it

LAHORE: Young Doctors Association, Punjab on Monday announced to stage a sit-in in front of all public sector hospitals in Punjab on January 10,to protest the alleged targeting of young doctors.

 

The leaders of the YDA Dr Nasir Abbas while talking to APP said that this decision was made in general council meeting of the YDA.

 

He said that doctors from the entire Punjab province would take part in the sit-in in front of the public sector hospitals.

 

They warned that if the Punjab government used force against their peaceful sit-in, it would have to face severe consequences.

 

The YDA leaders vowed to continue their peaceful struggle till the acceptance of their just demand of service structure.

 

To a question he said that the Punjab government was not acting upon the agreement hammered out after dozens of meeting some one month back with the YDA and a high level committee in which Senator Ishaq Dar was also present.

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Garment Workers Human Chain demanding Arrest of Tazrin fashion Owners for killing 112 workers

Garment Workers Human Chain demanding Arrest of Tazrin fashion Owners for killing 112 workers | Asian Labour Update | Scoop.it
National Garment Workers Federation ( NGWF ) today, January 9, threatened to launch greater agitation program if Tazreen Fashion’s owner were not arrested immediately for his responsibility in killing 112 workers in factory fire on November 24, 2013. The threat was issued from a Garment workers’ human chain that was held today in front of National Press Club in Dhaka city. Over 100 garment workers participated in human chain program that was took place from 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm. National Garment Workers Federation (NGWF) President Amirul Haque Amin presided over the program that was addressed by General Secretary Ms Safia Parveen, central leaders Md Faruk Khan, Ms Sultana Akter, Mod Kabir Hossain, Md Rafiq, Ms Nazneen Akter and Anwar Parvez, among others. Speakers said, “112 garment workers have lost their lives in Tazreen Fashion fire. Several hundred workers were injured in this incident. The enquiry committee formed by the Home Ministry and Parliamentary Standing Committee on Labour Ministry held Tazreen Fashion’s owner responsible for the death of 112 workers. A case was filed in this connection. But till today, Tazreen Fashion’s owner was not arrested for unknown reason. It is a shame & against justice.” Speakers demanded to publish real list of dead & injured workers of Tazreen fire, providing necessary medical treatment for the injured workers and payment of minimum Taka 2.5 million to each of the families of the dead workers under the definition of ‘loss of earning’. Demanding to the factory owners, Government, BGMEA and buyers . They also demanded to make garment sector ‘safe workplace’ and urged for taking initiative immediately so that no garment workers dies in factory fire or accident in the future. For this they urged Factory owners, BGMEA, Government and Buyers ( sourcing from Bangladesh ) should come forward with an joint initiative with trade unions .They also urges all buyers ( sourcing from Bangladesh ) sign the Health Safety MOU immediately . Stressing the need for accepting trade union rights as a basic right of the Garment workers, the program demanded implementation to this demand immediately. Press Secretary , NGWF.
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[S Korea] Protesting labor activist offered full-time status, but says he will refuse it

[S Korea] Protesting labor activist offered full-time status, but says he will refuse it | Asian Labour Update | Scoop.it
“I really want to work, but I can’t stop the protest and go work full-time by myself,” said Choe Byeong-seung

 

On Jan. 7, labor activist Choe Byeong-seung was granted a full-time position at Hyundai Motor. The appointment comes eight years after Choe, now 37, was dismissed from his position as an in-house subcontractor employee.

 

Choe is currently in the 83rd day of a sit-in protest on a electricity pylon at the Hyundai Motor Ulsan factory, calling for the regularization of all the company’s illegally dispatched temporary workers.

 

Choe responded to the offer by demanding that all in-house subcontractor employees receive permanent positions in line with an earlier ruling by the Supreme Court.

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Evaluating the Presidential Election – What the Labor Movement should take away from Park Geun-hye’s Victory (PSSP, S Korea)

In order to ready ourselves for a fight against this new government, our first task is to strength the KCTU. Next, activists who agree on the need to overcome deepened ideological divisions within the labor, focus on rebuilding or bases at the worksite level and strengthen the democratic labor movement need to regroup based on locality and industry. These activists need to take up the work of concretely analyzing the government and capital's strategy, in the context of economic crisis, in each industry and at each workplaces, and use this analysis as a basis for building a national front for a renewed struggle. In addition, we need to critically evaluate the old and worn methods of unionism and find means of reform.

Finally, given the loss of the workers' and wider progressive moment's traditional left identity after the formation of the Unified Progressive Party, we need now, more than ever, a return to a class-based politics located firmly in the struggle against new liberalism and for social and economic justice. Based on these principles, we must focus on discussion and debate at the local level to establish a unified strategy for confronting the Park administration.

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Labor groups march for workers’ rights #Taiwan

Labor groups march for workers’ rights #Taiwan | Asian Labour Update | Scoop.it
Thousands of people from workers’ unions and labor groups took to the streets in Taipei yesterday, demanding that the government protect workers’ rights.
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SHARPS and Students Protest Against Former Samsung CEO’s Appointment As Visiting Scholar At South Korea’s Top University

SHARPS and Students Protest Against Former Samsung CEO’s Appointment As Visiting Scholar At South Korea’s Top University | Asian Labour Update | Scoop.it

   SHARPS and students activists at Seoul National University have formed a task force to thwart the university’s month-long attempt to appoint  a former executive of Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. to the Sociology department as a visiting professor.

   On Jan. 14, the activists and bereaved family members of Samsung blood-disorder victims rallied at the administration building of SNU, calling for the country’s top university to rescind plans to appoint Hwang Chang-gyu, CEO of Samsung’s semiconductor unit in 2004-2008, to the prestigious position.


Hwang’s Law

   In 2002, as CTO of Samsung, Mr. Hwang could claim a global reputation when he announced that Samsung would continue to double memory density every year—he dubbed this process Hwang’s Law.  Indeed, Samsung met this goal each year between 2002 and 2008.   However, Samsung has since been unable to develop a viable technology to live up to Hwang’s Law.

  What really drove Hwang’s Law was Samsung’s belief in speed and volume.  As technology blogger Chris Edwards rightly predicted in 2007 regarding the end of Hwang’s Law:  “What is more likely is that Samsung will use the process developed for the 64Gb memory to make cheaper 8, 16 and 32Gb devices come 2009 when this process is meant to [enter] volume production.”


Hwang’s Deadly Law

   Samsung’s young, mostly female, employees have worked excessively long hours under hazardous conditions to make the staggering speed and volume of chip production possible.  As of March 2012, SHARPS has profiled 155 workers who contracted various forms of leukemia, multiple sclerosis and aplastic anemia after employment in the electronics industry in South Korea.  More than 50 percent are former Samsung employees.  As of June, 2012, of the 155, 63 have died.

   “Hwang Chang-gyu belongs in prison, not college,” said Hwang Sang-ki, the father of Hwang Yumi. His daughter was hired at the Samsung chip unit in 2003 when Hwang Chang-gyu began his big push on speed and volume.  In 2005, she was diagnosed with leukemia.  In 2007 Yumi died at the age of 23.   “Hwang Chang-gyu violated laws and left numerous workers ill and busted union drives,” the 58-year-old father said at the rally.


Not a Sociologist

   The 60-year-old Mr. Hwang, with a PhD in Electrical and Computer Engineering from University of Massachusetts, has no credentials as a sociologist.  And his post-Samsung career is not impressive at all.  In 2010, Mr. Hwang was named National Chief Technology Officer, a newly created government position responsible for selecting and supporting an emerging strategic industry.  An inquiry by lawmakers discovered that in fiscal 2012 his office spent KRW4.7 billion (U$444 thousand) on remuneration versus KRW12 billion (U$1.1 million) on a total of three R&D projects.

   To date, the SNU administration has categorically dismissed repeated requests by students and activists to disclose the rationale behind Mr. Hwang’s appointment.  The university’s personnel committee is scheduled to meet on Jan. 17 to finalize its decision on Mr. Hwang’s hiring.

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China - Trial begins to elect trade union chiefs

China - Trial begins to elect trade union chiefs | Asian Labour Update | Scoop.it
Chairpersons of trade unions at local companies in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province, will be directly elected by workers this year, according to a senior trade union official from the southern metropolis. Zhao Xiaosui, chairperson of the Guangzhou Federation of Trade Unions, said a pilot project will be tested this year, selecting eight to 10 companies to trial the new system. Guangzhou has a large number of foreign-funded companies, joint ventures and private firms, and is expected to become the country's first city to have elected trade union officials, said Zhao, who is also deputy director of Guangzhou’s top legislative body. The chairpersons of trade unions at local companies are usually appointed by government departments, or the chairman of board of their companies. More than 85 percent of the companies in Guangzhou have established trade unions, which have played an increasingly important role in protecting workers’ interest, Zhao said.
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Philippines: Drop the charges against union leaders

Philippines: Drop the charges against union leaders | Asian Labour Update | Scoop.it
Warrants of arrest have been issued for three of Kilusang Mayo Uno’s National Council members and one of its regional leaders. Roy Velez (KMU-National Capital Region chairperson), Amelita Gamara (KMU-NCR deputy secretary-general) and Ronald Ian Evidente (KMU-Negros spokesperson) have all been charged of fabricated crimes in connection with the activities of the rebel group New People’s Army. Meanwhile, Hermenegildo Marasigan (vice-chair of the Pagkakaisa ng mga Manggagawa sa Timog Katagalugan or Pamantik, KMU’s Southern Tagalog chapter) was charged in relation to an alleged scuffle that broke out in an anti-militarization protest in Laguna province.
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5,000 Jakarta workers rally for wages

5,000 Jakarta workers rally for wages | Asian Labour Update | Scoop.it
Trade unions led 5,000 workers in a mass rally in Jakarta on 16 January denouncing the government’s decision to exempt over 900 companies from paying the increased minimum wages as agreed in November 2012. The 16 January 2013 rally marched from in front of Jakarta`s Metropolitan Police Office at 9am to the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources’ and then to the Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration (Ministry of Labour). The police and military deployed 9,000 officers to oversee the demonstration. The second demand of the rally was for government to block the proposed increase to electricity prices that will drastically reduce workers’ purchasing power. A month after Indonesian unions mobilized 3 million workers in massive rallies on 3 October 2012 the Jakarta minimum wage was set to be raised from US$157 to US$230 for the year 2013. Around 986 companies, mostly in the shoes, garment and textile industries have since sent letters to the Labour Ministry asking to be exempt from paying the new minimum wage until next year at least, and 46 labour-intensive firms already have approval. Many of those 986 companies are continuing to use the military and yellow unions to intimidate workers from organizing into democratic unions. The powerful Federation of Indonesian Metal Workers' Union FSPMI led by president Said Iqbal mobilized thousands of metalworkers. Iqbal is also president of trade union confederation KSPI which also rallied members to the march. The new Indonesian workers' council MPBI, that united the country’s three major trade union confederations (KSPI, KSBSI, and KSPSI), also participated. Said Iqbal argues that the Ministry of Labour only has the right to grant exemptions to companies under one of two sets of circumstances. Either the company has been shown in an audit to have made a loss in each of the past two years, or that an agreement has been reached with workers to delay the salary increase.
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Indonesian Workers Protest in Jakarta Over Minimum Wage Delays

Hundreds of Indonesian workers joined protests in Jakarta today to urge the government to roll back increases in electricity and gas prices that they say are stalling efforts to introduce higher minimum wages.
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[Taiwan] Union representatives protest state worker bonus cuts

[Taiwan] Union representatives protest state worker bonus cuts | Asian Labour Update | Scoop.it

Representatives from the trade unions of state-owned banks and government-owned enterprises under the Ministry of Finance yesterday delivered a petition to Minister of Finance Chang Sheng-ford (張盛和) to express their displeasure over year-end bonus cuts.

More than 20 state-owned enterprises are planning to protest on Jan. 30 on Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office in Taipei to demand that the government come up with measures to supplement its plan to cap employees’ bonuses.

“The government should focus more on rooting out institutional corruption among high-ranking officials of state-owned enterprises, instead of slashing grassroots employee’s bonuses,” said Tsai Kui-hua (蔡桂華), president of the Land Bank of Taiwan (土地銀行) trade union, before taking the petition to Chang.

Tsai said that state-run bank employees deserve encouragement and support from the government, because the banks have to coordinate their business with government policies, but have still been able to generate higher-than-expected profits amid a challenging financial situation.

However, the government’s move to cut the performance bonuses of all workers in state-owned enterprises without discussing the move with trade unions was unfair, and could hurt the nation’s economy further by dragging down private consumption, she added.

Tsai said state-owned enterprises are willing to ride out the dire economic period with the public, but the government has to devise new, comprehensive principles for determining their bonuses.

“We should not receive bonuses if state-owned banks and enterprises do not meet their profitability targets,” Tsai said. “Likewise, employees at these institutions should be given higher bonuses if they generate higher-than-expected income.”

After talking with Chang, trade union representatives expressed their appreciation of the minister’s promise to speak to the Cabinet and lawmakers about the issue.

However, employees of state-owned enterprises may still carry out their plan to protest on Jan. 30 if the government cannot give them a satisfactory response.

The trade unions may also consider suing Premier Sean Chen and Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-shiang (施顏祥) for dereliction of duty.

Earlier this month, the legislature reached a consensus on slashing performance bonuses for workers at state-owned enterprises to the equivalent of 1.2 months’ salary, from the original 2.6 months’ salary level.

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Thousands of workers conduct rally in Jakarta on Wednesday

About 5,000 to 10,000 labor workers are planning to conduct a rally in Jakarta on Wednesday (Jan 16) to protest against moratorium of local minimum wage`s raise, increase of electricity tariff and criminalization of labors.

President of Confederation of Indonesian Workers Unions (KSPI) Said Iqbal here on Monday said the upcoming rally will be participated in by labors from Federation of Metal Workers Association (FSPMI) and the Indonesian Labor Movement Council (MPBI).

The rally will be held in front of Jakarta`s Metropolitan Police Office then proceed to the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources` office. The Wednesday rally will end in front of the Ministry of manpower and Transmigration. 

He said a bigger rally will be held next February 6 with more than 50,000 participants from various labor organizations in Jakarta, Bogor, Depok, Tangerang and Bekasi area. The rally will be held in front of Presidential Palace and the House of Representatives.

Said added thousands labor in big cities in Indonesia namely in Medan (North Sumatra), Batam (Riau island), Semarang (Central Java), Surabaya (East Java), Bandung (West Java), Banten, Aceh, Gorontalo and Makassar (South Sulawesi) will also conduct similar rallies on February 6.

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Campaign Planning Handbook

AMRC Hong Kong's insight:

Introduction

Campaigns are all about power. Understanding the power relationships that shape our world and learning how to better create our own power is at the heart of effective campaign planning. 

Today we are facing the resurgent drive of global capital to change the rules of the post-war “social contract” between business and labour. Economic restructuring, technological change and deregulation pose serious challenges to us all. Workers who were excluded from the post-war “social contract” are being hit the hardest.

Relying on past practice will not be sufficient to protect living standards, working conditions and public services. A key part of rebuilding the power of our movement is improving our ability to plan and wage effective campaigns.

This handbook draws on the work of countless people and is meant to be shared and improved upon through experience. It was written for unions, but principles of campaign planning apply to all social movements.

 

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[Philippines] Milling plant's ex-workers cry harassment

STRIKING workers of the First Farmers Holding Corporation (FFHC) in Barangay Dos Hermanas, Talisay City, Negros Occidental, cried for harassment Monday against village watchmen and scabs allegedly hired by the company.

Virgilio Salazar Jr., one of the workers and member of the First Arastre Stevedoring Services Employees Union, said they were attacked by scabs and barangay tanods allegedly last Thursday in an attempt to destroy their picket line and disperse the striking workers.

He said the around 40 scabs and tanods (village watchmen) were armed with knives and stones.

He said in a press conference at the Negros Press Club on Monday that a melee ensued between the tanods and their group that had tried to defend their picket line, resulting in the injuries of two members and a bystander near a sari-sari store who was hit by a wayward stone.

The union official said he was also assaulted by one of the attackers and was almost stabbed.

He said some of their attackers, particularly those throwing stones, came from inside of the compound of the milling plant.

Salazar said they tried to counter with the attackers coming from the compound but they were pacified and threatened by the company guards, who told them they will be shot if they do so.

Salazar said prior to last Thursday's assault on the picket line, the FFHC management had used personnel from the Philippine National Police Regional Mobile Group (RMG), Cafgus and tanods from Barangay Dos Hermanas and Barangay Concepcion in harassing them.

He also said that since day one of their picket, the management had set up police outpost near the gates of the milling plant and had even converted the nearby hall of Dos Hermanas as temporary detachment for the RMG personnel.

The union, for almost two months, had been staging a strike to protest their alleged union busting by means of terminating en masse the services of all its union members.

"We had been demanding to be reinstated back to work as regular employees of FFHC and to be paid the daily prescribed minimum wage rates and to be recognized as the sole and exclusive bargaining representatives of all rank and file workers which were recruited, placed and supplied by First Arastre and Stevedoring Services," said Salazar.

The management of FFHC had denied any liabilities on the striking workers, claiming they were never their employees but of a manpower firm that supplied workers for its sugar and molasses section.

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Hyundai stops night shifts in Korea

Hyundai workers began a new shift system on 8 January 2013 no longer working overnight for the first time since 1967 thanks to the IndustriALL-affiliated Korean Metal Workers’ Union’s agreement with the company.

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China 'to reform' controversial labour camps

China 'to reform' controversial labour camps | Asian Labour Update | Scoop.it

Chinese state media has reported that the country will reform its controversial system of forced labour camps this year.

The state Xinhua news agency's announcement on Monday contradicted earlier media reports, which cited domestic security chief Meng Jianzhu, that said the country would put an end to the the system. 

"The Chinese government will this year push the reform of its controversial re-education through labour system, according
to a national political and legal work conference on Monday," Xinhua reported. 

The "re-education through labour" system, which has been in place since 1957, has allowed authorities to lock up defendants for up to four years without trial. 

The step toward reform was announced earlier by other news organisations on Monday, citing an unofficial announcement by Meng Jianzhu, head of the Communist Party Politics and Law Committee, to China’s Justice Ministry newspaper. 

Independent Chinese media had claimed to confirm those reports of scrapping the system entirely and Meng's comments through unidentified sources.

All those reports were removed from media websites without an explanation. 

Earlier on Monday, CCTV, the state broadcaster said on its official microblog site said that the "use of the re-education through labour system will end this year, after approval from the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress".

The National People's Congress is China's parliamentary session, held annually in March. 

China’s supreme court and other officials declined to comment on the issue.

Critics of the country's "re-education through labour" system say that it undermines the rule of law is used against political activists. 

"They should abolish the labour camp system. China already has a legal system with proper procedures, labour camps are too random [...] A party leader can just pick up the phone and someone will be in jail," Guo Xue Hong, a former detainee in one of the camps, told Al Jazeera.

Guo spent a year in the camp, with the stress of the experience bringing on a stroke that has left him crippled.

The government says that it operates more than 300 such camps. In 2008, more than 160,000 people were doing time in such facilities.

"If it can be abolished this year, I think it's an extremely important step toward rule of law," said He Weifang, a law professor at Peking University.

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