IndustriALL Headlines #104

IndustriALL Headlines #104

Customers, Students, NGOs and Unions All Demand that NXP “Bring Back the 24!”
Cambodian Garment Workers Toiling to the Death
Unions at Rio Tinto Gear Up for Global Day of Action
Kimberly Clark Workers in Turkey End 43-day Strike With Gains
Akzo Nobel Korea Refuses to Recognize IndustriALL Affiliate KCTF


Customers, Students, NGOs and Unions All Demand That NXP “Bring Back the 24!”

Electronics multinational NXP is coming under increasing pressure to reinstate the 24 union members it sacked three months ago in Cabuyao, Philippines.  NXP’s corporate strategy in response to the pressure has been to repeatedly delay any intervention to wear down the MWAP union.

August 14, 2014:  Electronics multinational NXP is coming under increasing pressure to reinstate the 24 union members it sacked three months ago in Cabuyao, Philippines.  NXP’s corporate strategy in response to the pressure has been to repeatedly delay any intervention to wear down the MWAP union.

In defending and maintaining its gross violation of human rights, NXP’s argument is that the 5 May sacking of the entire elected leadership of the NXPSCIWU union was justified because union members did not work on three public holidays in April 2014.

The claim that this failure to work on national public holidays amounted to an illegal strike and sackable offence is both immoral and wrong. The labour authorities of the Philippine government are brokering conciliation talks between the union and local management. However NXP remains intransigent against the reinstatement of the sacked 24, offering instead a payoff that was unanimously rejected by workers.

Watch this moving video overview of NXP’s violation in the Philippines and its effects on the sacked workers. During the interviews, the sacked workers explain that NXP’s vindictive mass sacking forced them to take their children out of school, as they can no longer afford it.

IndustriALL Global Union general secretary Jyrki Raina stated:

“How can the executives of NXP and their customers such as Apple sleep at night knowing the facts of this case?

Apple’s iPhone 6 and many other everyday electrical items have important microchip technology built by this abusive employer NXP. It is the duty of those corporate customers to force the misbehaviour of NXP to stop, with an immediate first step being the reinstatement of the 24 sacked trade union representatives.”

The union busting attack by NXP was launched in retaliation to the union’s bargaining unit, led by President Reden Alcantara, negotiating for a daily pay increase of US$1.39 and the regularization of 1,500 contract workers. The 8% pay increase sought by the union would be enough to buy a kilo of rice and a pack of dried fish.

As well as Apple, two other top NXP customers Ericsson and Nokia are looking into the situation at their supplier, following an alert by IndustriALL affiliates in Sweden and Finland.

On 6 August NXP workers marked the third month of their campaign to “Bring Back the 24” with a 1,000-strong march inside the special economic zone, LISP1, where NXP is located. Other trade unions and community supporters joined the workers’ caravan from capital Manila to Southern Tagalog. Large steel barricades designed to block the march were pushed out the way. When marching past the NXP facility, workers inside showed their support with raised fists from inside the windows.

Reacting to the constant firm support for the union by remaining NXP workers, management has now installed cameras throughout the inside of the plant, and instructed internal security guards to prevent workers from wearing “Reinstate the 24 Officers” t-shirts and from posting support messages on social media.

NXP’s management continues to escalate its violations of the rights of its employees and make a mockery of the corporate claims that: “NXP is a reputable company that respects the rights of its workers. We have always enjoyed a strong and mutually beneficial partnership with our local employees and look forward to reaching a fair agreement with them soon.”

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Cambodian Garment Workers Toiling to the Death

A collapsed garment worker recovers in a clinic outside Phnom Penk.  ©IndustriALL Global Union/Luc Forsyth

A combination of overwork, poor working conditions and poverty wages has seen another spike of Cambodian garment workers collapsing at work, but now workers are even dying on the job.

August 14, 2014:  A combination of overwork, poor working conditions and poverty wages has seen another spike of Cambodian garment workers collapsing at work, but now workers are even dying on the job.

In a single week in July, over two hundred workers were admitted to the Prek Anhchanh Health Centre clinic on the outskirts of Phnom Penh after passing out at work in garment factories.  

However, more alarmingly, garment workers are actually dying at work.

Sokny Say from IndustriALL Global Union affiliate, the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia (FTUWKC) said:

“2014 is remarkable because while we have had many cases of mass faintings in the past, this is the first year that people have died. We must not become immune to the fact that so many garment workers are collapsing in the factories. It can be a precursor to death.”

Two workers employed at factories located outside Phnom Penh died at the end of July.

Thirty-five-year-old seamstress Nov Pas, who spent nearly four years making clothes for brands like Gap and Old Navy, passed out at her post in the Sangwoo factory at 8a.m on July 24th, 2014. By 9am she had been admitted to the nearest provincial hospital, and around 6pm she was pronounced dead.

When contacted for comment, Chea Sok Thong of the Korean-owned Sangwoo factory denied corporate responsibility for Ms. Nov’s death, claiming medical carelessness from the hospital where she was receiving treatment.

Garment worker, Vorn Tha, 44, collapsed and died at the New Archid factory, which makes clothes for H&M, after he had worked many long days from 7am to 10pm.

A third garment worker, employed at the Cambo Kotop Ltd factory in Phnom Penh, died in March.

IndustriALL’s general secretary, Jyrki Raina, stated:

“This sinister development of workers collapsing at work and then dying cannot go unchallenged. Poverty wages mean that garment workers cannot afford to eat properly and a lack of food, long hours and intolerable factory conditions are proving a lethal combination.

We continue to back Cambodian unions’ demands for a raise in the minimum wage so garment workers can afford enough food to live on and no longer have to work such punishing overtime hours to survive.”

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Unions at Rio Tinto Gear Up for Global Day of Action

Unions leaders from seven countries at mining giant Rio Tinto came together at the United Steelworkers Convention this week to discuss plans for their upcoming global day of action.

August 14, 2014:  Representatives from trade unions at Rio Tinto in Australia, Canada, France, Indonesia, South Africa, the UK and the US met at the convention in Las Vegas. They form part of the global network of unions at Rio Tinto, which earlier this year launched a global campaign against the company. They were joined at the meeting by union leadership from Germany and IndustriALL Global Union.

Participants discussed plans for their global day of action against Rio Tinto on 7 October, when IndustriALL affiliates around the world will take action to demand decent work as part of the STOP Precarious Work campaign.

The Rio Tinto Global Union Network chose 7 October to hold their global day of action because the billion-dollar company is increasingly introducing precarious forms of work at its operations around the globe.

For instance, the Steelworkers union at Rio Tinto subsidiary Kennecott in Utah, USA reported that Rio Tinto has adopted the practice of reducing the workforce through attrition and then replacing the retiring workers with contractors.

“Unions at Rio Tinto are coming together like never before to demand decent work. We will send that message loud and clear on 7 October,” stated IndustriALL Assistant General Secretary Kemal Ozkan.

The unions agreed at the meeting on the need for Rio Tinto to change its approach to unions and recognize them as a key stakeholder worthy of respect. Until that happens, “We want to poke them in the eye and kick them in the shins,” stated CFMEU Mining and Energy General Secretary Andrew Vickers, who is also the IndustriALL mining section Chairman.

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Kimberly Clark Workers in Turkey End 43-day Strike With Gains

IndustriALL Global Union’s Turkish affiliate Tümka-?? has managed to obtain new gains through determined industrial action of its 215 members at Kimberly Clark’s operation in the town Gebze.

August 8, 2014:  IndustriALL Global Union’s Turkish affiliate Tümka-?? has managed to obtain new gains through determined industrial action of its 215 members at Kimberly Clark’s operation in the town Gebze.

The settlement has been reached after two particularly major demands of the strikers were accepted by the local management. With the new collective agreement, notice periods have been substantially increased which Tümka-Is considers a remarkable step forward towards job security. The union members have also gained high wage increases. Particular regulations have been made for lower-wage earners which has brought more equality in wage scales.

Kimberly Clark management has also accepted to re-instate five dismissed workers whose employment contracts were terminated during the strike as they were claimed to insult strike-breakers via social media, particularly on Facebook. According to the deal, if the dismissed workers do not want to return back to their job, they are entitled to receive all their payments on the basis of the increases provided with the new agreement.

“We have had difficult days during this period, but always believed we would be successful to get our demands” said Ergun Tav?ano?lu, President of Tümka-??.

“My union and all strikers are thankful to IndustriALL Global Union and United Steelworkers for the support and solidarity in reaching this agreement.”

IndustriALL Assistant General Secretary Kemal Özkan commented: “This is a real victory, the result of courageous, unrelenting and determined struggle done by Tümka-?? and its members”.

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Akzo Nobel Korea Refuses to Recognize IndustriALL Affiliate KCTF

Korean workers at Akzo Nobel Powder Coatings Korea are being refused their right to collective bargaining after successfully organizing a majority of the 115-strong workforce.  IndustriALL is intervening.

August 11, 2014:  Korean workers at Akzo Nobel Powder Coatings Korea are being refused their right to collective bargaining after successfully organizing a majority of the 115-strong workforce.  IndustriALL is intervening.

The Korean Chemical & Textiles Workers’ Federation (KCTF) organized 62 of the 115 employees at Akzo Nobel Korea, with the new local officially forming on 10 May 2014. Two days later the local sent their written demand to management as to begin collective bargaining towards establishing a collective agreement.

However, instead of respecting international standards and national Korean labour legislation, local management employed delaying tactics and hired a union-busting law firm. Now, as management refuses to attend bargaining meetings, international support is required.

In today’s support letter to KCTF, IndustriALL general secretary Jyrki Raina wrote:

“I am shocked and angered to hear of the reaction of the plant level management and will be taking up my concern with the top management of Akzo Nobel.

This bad corporate behaviour is in breach of numerous important international labour standards as well as the national Korean labour law. It is unacceptable.”

The main concerns for employees at Akzo Nobel Korea, until being denied their fundamental right to bargain collectively, were: wages, working hours, retirement age, noise levels, industrial disease.

Union requests for meetings were ignored for 12 May, 28 May, 3 June and 13 June. Finally management attended a meeting with the new KCTF local on 23 June, but management showed zero commitment to bargain in good faith with the union. The notorious union busting attorneys were sent to represent the company in the next bargaining meeting on 8 August.

Additionally, the management has blocked the local union from installing a union notice board inside the factory, and tried to prohibit the local union leaders from wearing their union name tags. While several months have passed since the union demanded a sincere negotiation, the management is still failing to show any sincere commitment to bargain in good faith with the union.

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