[A few months ago, conditions at the Foxconn factory in China (which produces iPads for Apple) grew so bad that a growing number of workers were driven to suicide. Student activists in Hong Kong built support for the workers struggle with a series of actions. Now, word of similarly horrifying conditions in the Foxconn factories in India has brought the activists into action once again.–Frontlines ed.]
In Support of the Struggle of Foxconn Workers in India
An earlier protest burned iPads
All Imprisoned Strike Participants Should be Freed
In May this year, a wave of worker suicides shone the spotlight on low wages and harsh working conditions at Chinese factories of the world’s biggest IT manufacturer, Foxconn.
Now the company’s exploitation of workers has also been exposed in Chennai, India, where 319 Foxconn workers have been imprisoned after striking for a wage increase. Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM) supports these workers’ demands, and calls for the release of the imprisoned activists.
In China, in the aftermath of the spate of suicides, Foxconn announced a wage increase proposal in June to appease public criticism. It claimed that the monthly basic wage of the production line workers in Shenzhen would be raised to CNY 2000 (USD 300), effective October. The implementation is still in question as most of the workers are not formally informed about the wage increase, as of mid-October.
Meanwhile, in India, the basic salary for Foxconn production line workers is only about USD 106. They share Chinese workers’ aspiration for a wage increase. A strike was launched in mid-September as a result. Outrageously, the strike was suppressed by joint efforts of Foxconn and the local police.
According to the International Metalworkers’ Federation about 1500 workers affiliated to Foxconn India Thozhilalar Sangam (FITS) near the Southern city of Chennai have been on strike since 21 September, calling for wage increases. On 23 September, Foxconn announced that there would be 8-day salary deduction imposed on workers who participated in strike. Foxconn further issued letters of suspension to 23 trade union activists on the consecutive day.
In the process, Foxconn management used violence against the striking workers. Many female workers reported being harassed and physically abused. On 9 October, the local police intervened and arrested about 319 workers. While majority of detained workers were bailed out 4 days later, 12 workers were still imprisoned under fabricated criminal charges as of 19 October, including FITS Union honorary president A. Soundararajan, Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) Kanchipuram District Secretary E. Muthu Kumar. They are being held at Vellore Central Jail.
SACOM supports the resistance from the Indian workers and their just cause for wage increases. We also condemn the brutal suppression from Foxconn and the local police. Strike is the last resort of the workers whose demands are not reasonably addressed by the employer. If Foxconn can show good will to negotiate with workers, they do not have to go on strike.
The Indian government, brands and Foxconn should bear responsibility for the crackdown on the strike. The followings are demands from SACOM to the 3 parties concerned:
- The Indian government should uphold freedom of assembly of workers and free the 12 Foxconn workers immediately;
- Nokia and other clients of Foxconn must reform their purchasing model and increase the unit price paid, enabling Foxconn to provide a decent wage for workers; and
- Foxconn must refrain from its heavy-handed management methodology, enter into dialogue with the FITS union for a wage increase in good faith, and lift the suspension of the 23 workers who participated in the strike.
Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior
Telephone: (852) 2392 5464 Fax: (852) 2392 5463
Mailing Address: P.O.Box No. 79583, Mongkok Post Office, HONG KONG
LabourStart has launched an online petition in support of Foxconn workers in India,