48 Hours of Action Against Samsung: Coming to a High Street Near You

Ella Wilkinson from People and Planet exposes Samsung’s unfair treatment of their workers and shares plans for a protest you can get involved in, which will be going ahead in October.

Students across the UK and Ireland will be protesting outside Samsung stores from 25th-26th October as they stand in solidarity with factory workers and oppose the tech-giants no-union policy.

Union Busting? That’s Disgusting!

When it comes to upholding workers’ rights in their factories, Samsung are not only failing, they’re also making it worse by actively preventing their workers from joining a union. The tech-giant based in South Korea have barely been out of the news in recent years as Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong was embroiled in a bribery and corruption scandal involving the country’s former President. But what does this mean for Samsung factory workers, and how can you support their struggle for justice?

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Image source: http://blogs.ubc.ca/alexhawley/2012/09/13/business-ethics-is-samsung-abusing-workers-rights

Working for Samsung

The abuses of Samsung factory workers are significant, in the Philippines, it has been reported that female workers are particularly at risk of health issues including urinary tract infections and reproductive health issues. Urinary tract infections are common (affecting as many as 50% of female workers) due to insufficient breaks and difficulty leaving the assembly line for bathroom visits. Additionally, workers are routinely exposed to harmful chemicals in the workplace but were unaware of the toxic effects these might have.

In Malaysia, migrant workers in Samsung factories reported having their passports confiscated to prevent them from seeking alternative employment, and being forced to pay excessive recruitment fees which then landed them in a cycle of debt to their recruitment agency.

It can be complex to trace exactly where the components of Samsung phones are made, as this work is often outsourced to a variety of different companies based across the globe, before the final products which we see in High Street stores are assembled.

No Union, No Voice

The abhorrent working conditions endured by Samsung workers are shocking enough, but just as shocking is Samsung’s deliberate attempt to stop workers from organising for improvements. Samsung operates a “no-union policy” which intentionally prevents it’s employees from forming or joining a union. Unions are groups of workers who band together to collectively bargain for better working conditions, fairer pay and an end to discriminatory practices. Without a union, workers are forced to pursue their grievances as individuals, which often go ignored. Until Samsung workers have freedom of association (the right to join a union), they are unable to fight for their rights and challenge Samsung’s inhumane working conditions.

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What can students do?

Students across the UK and Ireland are standing in solidarity with electronics workers by launching 48 Hours of Action Against Samsung from 25th-26th October 2019. They’ll be protesting outside Samsung stores, educating shoppers about the abuses workers face in factories and raising awareness about Samsung’s no-union policy. They’ll be sending a clear message to Samsung that we WON’T live with sweatshops in our supply chains by collecting signatures for this petition.

You can find out more about the 48 Hours of Action Against Samsung on People & Planets website, to get involved with your local action or to organise your own please email sweatshopfree@peopleandplanet.org. You can also start a Sweatshop Free campaign on your campus, and work towards eradicating sweatshops in the electronics industry for good. Find out more information on the Sweatshop Free campaign and how you can get involved.

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