It’s a shame that every time I pick up my Samsung Galaxy Note 3 or Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 that I have to see the blood on my hands as a consumer. Samsung and Apple may compete on a lot of things, but when it comes to labor repression and workers’ rights on the Asian continent, they might be equals.
Take a look inside Korea:
The first ever large-scale trade union in Samsung Group, the Korean Metal Workers’ Union (KMWU) Samsung Electronics Service Workers’ Local (around 2000 members), is on indefinite strike. The workers have asked Samsung to stop labour repression and recognize the union, for employment security at the 3 centers with concentrated union membership, to pay a living wage and to bargain a first collective agreement.
Things got worse however:
During the strike, on May 17, the KMWU Samsung local chapter chair committed self-immolation in protest against Samsung’s continuing labour repression. 300 police forces stormed his funeral wake, arrested 25 mourners, and absconded with the labour martyr’s body. He was cremated under police protection against his dying wishes that his sacrifice be used to win labour rights at Samsung, which adheres to a “No Union” corporate policy. Police and public prosecutors have imprisoned KMWU Samsung union local Chair WI, Young-il and First Vice-Chair LA, Du-shik for protesting the raid at the funeral wake when the body was taken amid this clampdown on democratic and trade union rights.
As much as we may love our electronics we have to be reminded of the other side of the coin, and that is the horrible exploitation of labor in Asia as well as Africa to bring us these products. In Africa people are killed for the minerals that go into our gadgets and in Asia they are violently repressed and face horrible working conditions with low pay to manufacture and assemble those gadgets. As consumers we can demand better from these corporations.