Request for solidarity for YFOTU’s struggle for basic labour rights – No to sweatshop mobile phones!
chinaworker.info has received this appeal for solidarity and support from Taiwanese workers organised in the trade union YFOTU and the independent trade union federation NAFITU. We urge all readers to do what they can to support this struggle against blatant union-busting methods and the dismissal by the company YFO of more than ten trade members. The letter contains addresses and links to facilitate immediate protests by you and your organisation.
Dear Fellow Workers, Officers and Organizers in Trade Unions and other Civil Organizations:
Workers at Young Fast Optoelectronics (YFO) in Taiwan urgently request your solidarity actions for their struggle to defend their union and basic labor rights against the company’s union-busting actions and the Taiwanese government’s negligence of the law. Please help us disseminate the information to those who you think fit, and join us in this struggle.
YFO is a Taiwan-based producer of touch-sensor used on high-end mobile phones such as iPhone. It is a major supplier to brand names such as Samsung, LG, HTC, Qualcomm and so on. Google is to become the major buyer of YFO products through subcontracting the manufacturing of Google Phone to HTC and Qualcomm. YFO has three plants in Guangdong, China, one in Hanoi, Vietnam, and one in Tao-Yuan, Taiwan, and a combined workforce of more than 10 thousand.
Working condition for the 1,300 workers at YFO Taoyuan Plant is worse than most people expected. Aside from low wages, high work intensity, forced overtime without pay, and poor health and safety conditions that is becoming rampant in the so-called high-tech industries today, YFO also hired 200 migrant workers and 400 high school “interns” (some of them are below the age of 16, which is the legal criteria of child labor in Taiwan) and pay them less than the legal minimum wage. And this happened despite the fact that YFO has posted a record-high profit last year.
Workers duly organized a trade union, Young Fast Optoelectronics Trade Union, or YFOTU, in December 2009 to address their problems. The management promptly dismissed five union officers and more than ten active union members in March 2010, under the pretense that their production line will be moved to China. Trade unionists in Taiwan believe that this is a deliberate union-busting action and gross violation of the Labor Union Law.
YFOTU and National Federation of Independent Trade Unions (NAFITU), which YFOTU is affiliated with, have waged a campaign since the illegal dismissal. Aside from the negligence of government in enforcing labor laws in Taiwan, YFOTU and NAFITU especially stress the negligence of the brand name companies in enforcing their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) standards. HTC, the fast expanding Taiwan brand name, is especially under fierce protest.
HTC itself, on the other hand, has commercial cooperation with many well-known telecom corporations which sell its mobile phones: Vodafone, Verizon, Chunghwa Telecom, and Taiwan Mobile are just among the top of them. These telecom brand names are responsible for the exploitive working conditions and union-busting management in YFO, too.
We hope that you can help us in this campaign by pressuring the Taiwanese government and all the buyers of YFO such as HTC, Samsung, LG, Google, Qualcomm, Vodafone, Verizone, Chunghwa Telecom and Taiwan Mobile. We need you to tell them that violation of basic labor rights is not an acceptable business practice, and that we believe “injury to one is an injury to all.”
Also, there is a danger that YFO would transfer the workloads from the plant in Taiwan to those in China, we urge your attention to the working conditions and labor rights in YFO’s plants in China to protect the workers there, too.
The demands of YFOTU and NAFITU are:
1. Reinstate the illegally-dismissed union officers and members;
2. Resolve labor dispute through dialogue with YFOTU and NAFITU;
3. The government shall form a joint-committee from different ministries and take thorough investigation about the working conditions and labor rights abuses, and prevent repetition of labor rights abuse in YFO.
What you can do to help:
1. Sign our petition and send back to us.
2. Sign the on-line campaign on LabourStart
3. Write to the management of Samsung, LG, HTC, Google, Qualcomm, Vodafone, Chunghwa Telecom and Taiwan Mobile to pressure, telling them to set up code of conducts for their suppliers (if they don’t have it at all) according to the International Core Labor Standards advocated by ILO, and to monitor and demand YFO to reinstate the union officers and members, to obey the suppliers’ code of conducts (if they have it) and the local laws;
4. Write to the Taiwan government to protest and demand a thorough investigation on YFO and enforce the law;
5. Distribute this mail to your affiliates, members and friends, encourage them to write to pressure;
6. Cooperate with us in our future actions that might need your solidarity and assistance;
7. Any other ways that could help us for this campaign.
On behalf of all the YFOTU members and workers in YFO, we thank for your support.
Yours in solidarity,
Secretary, Young Fast Optoelectronic Trade Union (YFOTU)
General Secretary, National Federation of Independent Trade Unions (NAFITU)
Lennon Ying-Dah Wong, Consultant and International Coordinator of YFOTU
Mobile: +886-933908994, +886-968049125
Wei-Li Chu, General Secretary, NAFITU
Model protest letter for individuals/organisations
To whom it may concern,
We are deeply concerned about the working conditions at Young Fast Optoelectronics (YFO), which is a supplier to Samsung, LG, HTC, Google, Qualcomm, Vodafone, Verizon, Chunhwa Telecom and Taiwan Mobile, and we are writing to request your corporation to look into the case and establish a code of conduct which upholds labor rights at your supplier.
We were informed by Young Fast Optoelectronics Trade Union (YFOTU) and National Federation of Independent Trade Unions (NAFITU) that severe labor rights violations occurred at YFO, including:
1. Student workers are employed as de facto workers in name of internship; some of them are younger than 16 years old. In other words, child labor is employed YFO. Not only that, the child labors were demanded to work for as long as the adult workers, which is already proved to be a violation of the Taiwan law and has been penalized by Taiwan Government;
2. Deduction of overtime pay is found in the factory. According to local law, overtime pay should be calculated on the basis of the salary of each month. Instead, YFO pays the overtime pay on the basis of the basic wage, which has made tremendous loss on workers’ salaries every month;
3. Overtime work is excessive. Working hour is up to 100 hours per month, and sometimes workers are denied a holiday in a week. Refusal for working overtime would often result as the deductions on salaries and threats to be fired. It is not only highly suspected an abuse of child labors, it is even suspected to be a violation of forced labor.
The workers in YFO established YFOTU in December 2009. Since then, YFOTU has been demanding the factory to rectify the labor rights violations. Outrageously, five officers and more than ten members of YFOTU were retaliated and dismissed illegally due to their legal campaign. It is evidently a violation to the freedom of association to the Taiwan law and the International Core Labor Standards.
As advocated by the Code of Conduct of Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC) and the standards of the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), it is obligatory for your corporation to ensure your suppliers to implement the standards stipulated in EICC Code of Conduct. Regrettably, the standards like working hours, wages, freedom of association and prohibition of child labor are not implemented.
It is thus obligatory for your corporation to adopt a Suppliers’ Code of Conduct and monitor your suppliers to follow the Code to ensure the working conditions at your suppliers.
Even though your corporation is one of the leading corporate in terms of technology development, it lags behind other brands in terms of corporate social responsibility as the working conditions in YFO was exposed to the public. We urge your corporation to create a Suppliers’ Code of Conduct in line with EICC Code and Core Labor Standards advocated by the International Labor Organization (ILO), International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and Global Union Federations (GUFs) and to monitor your suppliers to follow the Code to ensure the working conditions at your suppliers.
In support of YFOTU and NAFITU, we further demand your corporation to communicate with YFO with the aim to:
1. Reinstate the dismissed union officers and members;
2. Resolve labor dispute through dialogue with YFOTU and NAFITU;
3. Monitor the labor rights and working conditions, prevent repetition of labor rights abuse in YFO.
Furthermore, we are deeply concerned about the negligence of the Taiwan Government on protecting the workers in YFO and enforcing the labor laws. We strongly urge the Taiwan Government to:
1. Make a thorough investigation on the total working conditions in YFO;
2. Take concrete actions against the illegalities and to protect the workers in YFO and all parts of Taiwan for their labor rights and working conditions in an effective way.
Looking forward to hear favorable response from your corporation soon.
Relevant target e-mail addresses:
1. President of Taiwan: email@example.com
2. Premier of Taiwan: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
3. LG: firstname.lastname@example.org
4. Samsung: email@example.com
5. HTC: firstname.lastname@example.org
6. Google: EricSchmidt1@yahoo.com (CEO Eric Schmidt); email@example.com. (media contact);
7. Qualcomm: firstname.lastname@example.org
8. Vodafone: Bobby.Leach@vodafone.com
9. Verizon: Ethicsline@verizonbusiness.com ; Compliance@verizonwireless.com
10. Chunghwa Telecom: email@example.com
11. Taiwan Mobile: TCCPA@taiwanmobile.com
Fact Sheets Regarding the Struggle of Young Fast Optoelectronics Trade Union (YFOTU)
For more details of the working conditions in Young Fast Optoelectronics (YFO) and about our campaign, here is some background information [This an abridged version of the campaign factsheet, the full version can be obtained from YFOTU]:
The earnings of YFO:
YFO is earning tremendously. In the year 2009, the revenue of Young Fast is $4.02 billion, and the margin is 35.5%; its stock price has once rushed to over NT$500 (approximately $15.68) per share, operating margins NT$4.925 billion (approximately $154.48 million) and NT$22.53 (approximately $0.7) as full-year earnings per share in the year of 2009; it has been called the “king among the touch panels” in Taiwan. Because of the tremendous earnings, the board of YFO agree for NT10 ($0.31) per share cash dividend which amounting to NT1.33 billion ($41.718 million) in the same year.
The exploitive working conditions in YFO:
1. Overtime work is excessive: overtime working hour is up to 100 hours a month, and sometimes workers are denied a holiday in a week.
2. Child labourers are hired and abused: student workers are employed as de facto workers in name of internship, some of them are under 16, and they have to work for as long as the adult workers. In other words, child labor is employed in the factory, and the violation has been proved and penalized by the local labor administration, and has been investigated by the public prosecutor in mid-April.
3. Deduction of overtime wages: according to Labor Standard Law, overtime wages should be calculated on the basis of the salary of each month. Instead, YFO pays the overtime wages on the basis of the basic wage, which makes a large deficiency on the salaries for all workers every month.
4. Forced labor is also suspected: refusal for working overtime would result as the deductions on salaries and threats to be fired. Afraid of losing the job, most workers are almost always forced to accept the overtime demand by the management.
The union-busting actions by YFO:
1. Transfer the union officers: from the establishment of the Young Fast Optoelectronics Trade Union (YFOTU) on December 2009, YFO had once transferred three officers to the cleaning unit from the production line. It was stopped only when the local labor administration intervened.
2. Dismiss the union officers and members illegally: On March 12, 2010, the management of YFO dismissed 5 of the union officers and more than 10 members illegally altogether in the fabricated excuse of "the business suffers an operating loss or contraction; a change in business nature requires a reduction of workers and the particular workers cannot be assigned to another suitable position; and a particular worker is clearly not able to perform the duties required of the position held", which is just a duplication of part of Article 11 from the Labor Standard Law which permits the employer to dismiss the employees legally; apparently, they are only pretense and are totally groundless. It is clear that YFO tries to eliminate the newly-born union by dismissing its officers and members illegally. It is clear that YFO tries to eliminate the newly-born union by dismissing its officers and members illegally.
YFO’s commercial relations:
We sum up three types of commercial relations for YFO; in a word, YFO is a supplier for all of the brand names mentioned below:
1. Manufacturing: brand names of mobile phones: YFO got the bills from Samsung, LG and HTC; among them, Samsung is a member of the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (or EICC), and HTC doesn’t even have a code of conduct at all;
2. Joint-brands and technology: HTC has cooperative projects with Google for manufacturing mobile phones and with Qualcomm for its technologies;
3. Selling distributing: HTC has cooperated with telecom corporations such as Vodafone in Britain, Verizone in the United States, Chunghwa Telecom and Taiwan Mobile in Taiwan.
Other possible developments:
As the quota for applying for more migrant workers has been temporarily frozen, and most of the interns have been called back to their schools in YFO, there might be a shortage of labor force, which would probably force YFO to transfer the workload from the plant in Taiwan to those in China. It would likely increase the labor intensity for the workers in China.
References of articles and reports:
1. YFOTU’s blog: http://yfotu.blogspot.com/ (Most of its contents are in Chinese while some in English).
2. An English report by YFOTU regarding the protest to HTC on April 2: Shocked by YFO Workers Twice A Day, HTC Still Doesn’t Mind the Labor Condition of Its Supplier. (http://yfotu.blogspot.com/2010/04/shocked-by-yfo-workers-twice-day-htc.html )
3. An English report from a website of technological news regarding the protest to HTC on April 2: HTC launch gate crashed by supplier union (http://www.semiaccurate.com/2010/04/06/htc-launch-gate-crashed-supplier-union/ ).
4. English version of the open letter to Ms. Cher Wang, Chairperson of HTC: Be the Salt and Light for Workers: An Open letter to Cher Wang, HTC Chairperson (http://yfotu.blogspot.com/2010/04/be-salt-and-light-for-workers-open.html )
5. Two English reports regarding the proved child labor abuse in YFO:
Young Fast Optical hired underaged workers: CLA
Young Fast accepts fines for labor violation