A Letter From The Indian Workers of the International Metalworkers Federation to Foxconn CEO Terry Gou

Concerned Residents of Mount Pleasant and Racine County need to be aware of how horrible Foxconn treats it’s workers in India before they allow the same conditions to set back the freedoms and rights that Workers in Wisconsin have already fought for, won, and enjoy:

Defying police attacks, Foxconn workers in India continue strike

Thousands of workers are continuing their walkout at a factory owned by Taiwan-based Foxconn corporation in Sriperumbudur, in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu despite violent attacks by police. On September 24, police forces broke up an occupation of the plant by workers, brutally beating dozens and detaining 1,200 workers for a whole day before releasing them in the evening.

            Striking workers at Foxconn plant in Sriperumbudur, India

This was the second occupation in Sriperumbudur broken up by police in recent months. In June, police attacked and arrested 300 workers conducting a sit-down strike at the Korean-owned Hyundai automobile plant in the city.

Foxconn Corporation, which has 920,000 employees worldwide, recently gained international notoriety for the brutal conditions inside its factories after 10 workers at its Chinese plant in Shenzen committed suicide. (See, “Foxconn suicides highlight China’s sweatshop conditions”)

With 7,000 workers Foxconn India is the third largest industrial employer in Tamil Nadu after Hyundai and Nokia. Workers at the factory began an occupation—a form of struggle widely practiced in India—on September 21. They demanded that management negotiate a pay increase and extend recognition to their trade union Thozilalar Sangam (FITS).

Mass arrests, Locking up of Foxconn Workers and FITS Union Leaders, Illegal Suspensions, Repression of Indian Workers

Dear Mr. Gou,

On behalf of 25 million metalworkers represented by the International Metalworkers’ Federation (IMF) with strength in more than 100 countries, I write to convey our outrage at the locking up of Foxconn India employees and their trade union leaders at Vellore Central Jail after the Indian employees asked Foxconn for their legal rights. We call on you to ensure:

–        that the complaints behind these charges are dropped and to ensure the immediate release of Foxconn India Thozhilalar Sangam (hereafter, FITS Union) honorary president A. Soundararajan, Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) Kanchipuram District Secretary E. Muthu Kumar and the ten other FITS union leaders;

–        that all the Indian Foxconn workers victimized by suspension or paycuts for participating in union activities be immediately reinstated at their jobs with full back pay; and

–        that Foxconn immediately enter good faith negotiations with the FITS union to resolve these issues and ongoing problems stemming from working and employment conditions at the Foxconn plant in Nokia SEZ of Tamil Nadu, India.

In our view, the recognition and pay issues raised by Foxconn’s Indian employees need not have escalated to hunger strike, sit-in strike and mass arrest if the management had not turned a deaf ear to the workers’ written requests of August 24, 2010 and September 6, 2010 that Foxconn India management recognize the FITS Union—which had already gained legal status as a trade union of the Foxconn employees under the Indian law with registration number 504-KPM—and for Foxconn to begin wage talks with FITS Union.

Foxconn India management’s clear lack of willingness to negotiate with FITS Union, and management’s sudden September 21 announcement of its intention to conclude wage negotiations with another group (the Foxconn India Thozhilarlar Munnetra Sangam FITMS union, hereafter FITMS) forced these Foxconn employees to opt for 1500-person mass hunger strike and sit-in as of 12 am on September 22, 2010. Only then, on September 22, and in the presence of officials of the Tamil Nadu government and other witnesses, did the Foxconn India management agree to begin talks with the FITS union, scheduling the first round of negotiations for September 27, 2010. The government authorities categorically advised the Foxconn management not to engage in any actions that might victimize workers.

Trusting the company to uphold its commitment before the employees and the government in good faith, the Indian Foxconn employees of FITS Union stopped the sit-in hunger strike.

For these reasons, Foxconn’s posting notice the very next day (September 23) that it would dock 8-days of wages from the workers who participated in the peaceful sit-in and the company’s claim that it had just concluded an agreement with FITMS and thus could not bargain with FITS as publicly promised the day before is treated as a betrayal by the local community. This is why the Foxconn workers continue to demand negotiations and why the local labor authority asked Foxconn on October 1 to provide a written response to the FITS demands.

This failure of the Foxconn India management to respond to conciliation initiatives with dialogue and the sheer betrayal of their publicly-made commitments gave the Foxconn India employees no choice but to resume the sit-in on September 24, 2010 calling for negotiations or even for a fairly administered ballot to demonstrate FITS is the union representing the overwhelming majority of Foxconn India employees.

Having undermined efforts to establish working relationships by the above behaviour, the Foxconn management then turned to brute repression of the workers by having 1500 striking workers including women workers brutally dragged out, detained illegally by police until 8 pm–in some cases, giving rise to incidents where Foxconn women workers report being harassed and physically abused.

We remind you that on 22 September, 27 September, 30 September and 1 October, Tamil Nadu government authorities instructed Foxconn India not to victimize its Indian workers since punishing workers for exercising labor rights is illegal. Despite the categorical, unambiguous guidance of the Tamil Nadu labor authorities with explicit reference that it would be illegal for the company to continue with suspension of 23 trade union activists, Foxconn India appears intent on openly flouting the Indian government authorities and the law in order to deny fundamental human rights such as freedom of association and collective bargaining to its employees in India.

Less than a month ago, you stood before the Chinese press to make the claim, “Foxconn is not a sweatshop.” Yet, unlike your loose allegation that Foxconn management style was unrelated to the string of suicides in your facilities, the sequence of events in India and illegal suspensions taken by Foxconn to bully Indian workers into submission are direct acts taken by Foxconn management in flagrant disregard of local labor authorities with tight causality. Denying your employees the freedom of association, even locking up the Foxconn workers and their union leaders for exercising labor rights are in our view egregious rights violations characteristic of a sweatshop.

We urge you to take immediate action to address the rapidly worsening situation in Tamil Nadu Foxconn. I have today also written to the government authorities in Tamil Nadu and to the CEO of Nokia to advise them of the situation and to seek their assistance in redressing the abuses of workers’ rights at Foxconn.

Sincerely,

Jyrki Raina
IMF General Secretary

Standing up for the Rights of Wisconsin Workers and Property Owners is going to require a Community Effort!

Please join Cindy and I is JUST SAYING NO to allowing Governor Scott Walker, Representatives Robin Vos,  Cory Mason & MTP President David DeGroot to violate the Wisconsin Constitution (and their Oath of Office) by granting special rights to Corporate interests, stealing people’s property, destroying multi-generational Farms alongside an entire long established Community, loosening environmental protections, permitting heavy metals water pollution, instituting slave labor wages, providing taxpayer subsidies to multi-billionaire Corporations, and politician overreach.

 

 

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