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Archive for October 19th, 2010

Foxconn And The Least Expensive Part.

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Capitalism depends on the manufacture of goods at comparatively low prices, but often sold at a premium.

For evidence of that we need look no further than the modern Western accoutrement, the mobile phone.

This has been brought into focus by the activities of Foxconn, whose naked exploitation of its workers has led to many suicides and growing concerns over its activities.

Foxconn is effectively a subcontractor to Western companies, Apple, Nokia, etc. They put together electronic goods and mobile phones that are so ubiquitous in the West.

But that labour comes at a cost, small cost for Foxconn and a large one for its workers as the strike in India shows:

“Foxconn India management’s defiance to recognise the demands of the Foxconn India Thozhilalar Sangam (FITS) union affiliated to the Centre of India Trade Unions (CITU), on wages and reinstatement of 23 workers, caused workers to commence an industrial struggle on September 22, 2010, according to information provided by the International Metalworkers’ Federation (IMF) and India labour rights group Cividep.

On September 8, FITS, claiming membership of around 1,500 workers out of the 1,800 total of regular workers, gave notice to strike to Foxconn India management demanding wage negotiations. However, the management entered in to an agreement with Foxconn India Thozhilalar Munnetra Sangam (FITMS), a union affiliated to LPF workers wing of ruling DMK party.

From the early hours of September 22, 2010, FITS commenced its “sit-in” strike, around 1,500 workers participated and half of them are women workers. Around 6,000 contract workers and trainees were also not allowed to work by the strikers. In the evening of the same day workers called off the strike as the Foxconn India management promised to discuss with the FITS union in the presence of District Labour Commissioner on September 27, 2010.

However, on September 23, Foxconn India informed the workers that it already entered in to a memorandum of understanding with the FITMS union, hence no negotiations with FITS and announced the imposition of eight days wage cut for workers who participated in the strike.

Protesting against the management action, FITS resumed the sit-in strike on September 24. The management used police to arrest 1,500 workers and suspended 23 activists.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by modernityblog

19/10/2010 at 17:46

Jimmy Mubenga: Privatising Manslaughter.

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Older readers will remember the security companies, Securicor and Group 4. They use to deliver money to banks, supply security guards or nightwatchmen.

That was what they use to do.

However, thanks to privatisation under Margaret Thatcher and aided by John Major Group 4 got a contract to transport prisoners around Britain. This was, of course, done on the cheap and led to many escapes and errors by Group 4, but the public money kept pouring into their coffers.

Later on, in 1992 Group 4 were allowed to open the first private prison on Humberside, the Wolds Remand Centre. It suffered many problems and was routinely condemned for incompetence, again things done on the cheap. In 1999 Group 4 was stripped of its contract, such were its inadequacies

Later on it merged with Securicor to form G4S. By doing the grunt work, on the cheap, G4S has made a fortune and has its claws into much of the public sector.

They are the company responsible for Mr. Mubenga’s death.

The Gaurdian has more:

“Kevin Wallis, a passenger on the aircraft, said he had been sitting across the aisle from Mubenga and watched as three security guards restrained him with what he believed to be excessive force.

Wallis said he heard Mubenga complain: “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe” for at least 10 minutes before he lost consciousness, and later observed that handcuffs had been used in the restraint.

Last night, police confirmed that they were investigating the death of Mubenga, who they said was “deported from the UK under escort by three civilian security guards”.

“Inquiries continue to establish the full circumstances of the incident,” a Scotland Yard spokesman said. “There have been no arrests.”

The guards worked for G4S, a private security firm contracted to oversee . In a statement, G4S said a man “became unwell” on a flight while being deported.

The wording was echoed by the Home Office, which said Mubenga had “taken ill” – but Wallis, who described having the clearest view of any passenger on the aircraft, said that account was “absolute rubbish”.

The 58-year-old, an oil engineer from Redcar, said he became aware a man was in distress as soon as he boarded BA flight 77, bound for Luanda, at around 8pm.

Speaking on the phone from Soyo, in the northern province of Angola, he described how he heard Mubenga “moaning and groaning” as though in pain.

His leather jacket had been taken off, and some passengers had been moved away.

He said two security guards were sitting either side of Mubenga and “holding him down”.”

It has more here.

Update 1: We should not forget that is this not the first such manslaughter, remember Joy Gardner:

“Mrs Gardner, 40, died in 1993 after a struggle with police who arrived at her flat in Crouch End, north London, to serve a deportation order on her.”

This is how the Guardian explains it:

“Thirteen feet of masking tape and a body belt were used to restrain Gardner, a 40-year-old mother, when officers from the Metropolitan police specialist deportation squad arrived to deport her back to Jamaica.”

Update 2: This is an extract from witnesses:

Witness 4, Andrew, seated row 23. A 44-year-old Eastern European passenger

“At approximately 19:30 I boarded the aircraft. On my way to my seat, seven to 10 rows in front I noticed that there was something going on in the last row of seats. I noticed two big guys pushing something with the weight of their bodies against the seats in the last row. At that moment I saw only the backs of these men. I heard one voice screaming and begging for help. I realised that the voice was coming from the person which two men were pushing down.

“I took my seat in the vicinity of that place, across the aisle. I could not see from my place what was happening behind me, but every few minutes after I took my seat I changed my position to look back and see how the situation developed. The screaming behind me continued for the whole time. The man’s voice was begging for help. The tone of the voice was anxious and excited but not aggressive in any way. The man among other words was using the following words which I can recall: ‘somebody help me’, ‘don’t do this’, ‘they are trying to kill me’, ‘I can’t breathe’, ‘I have family’, ‘why are you doing this’, ‘no, no, no, no’.

“He did not swear or use bad language. He constantly continued to shout. In the beginning his voice was strong and loud but with the time passing by, the voice was losing its strength. I heard the man had difficulties breathing. Two men pushing the person down were silent, at least I did not hear one word said by them. I did not hear any fight noises – no kicking, no punching, no struggling which I should have heard if it happened. Every time I looked back, I saw the same picture – two men sitting on top of somebody. It continued for approximately 30 minutes until the plane started to move.

“In the meantime cabin crew moved some of the passengers sitting nearby to the front of the plane. I felt very disturbed by the way two men were dealing with the situation. But, as I was sure that they were policemen I expected them to know what they were doing. Also, I was a foreigner not in my country and the cabin crew were around the whole time. I was really afraid to intervene. I just said ironically to my neighbour ‘shall we call police?’

“The voice which continued to ask for help suddenly went silent. I thought he was given some tranquilisers but then I realised that police has no right to do that. From the moment he went silent, it took a very long time – 10 minutes maybe? – until an announcement about a sick person on board was broadcast and even longer – another 10 minutes? – until paramedics arrived. The man was put on the floor, only then I heard CPR going on, but for a very short time only. Then I realised the man must have died already. I know from experience, that when people around the victim are no longer in a rush the person must be dead.

“Later police officers arrived, he was removed to the galley area and we were moved to the front of the plane where police took our contact details. That was horrible, I also feel terrible because I did not do anything. I would like to make his wife know how very, very deeply sorry I am about this situation and about the fact I have not helped her husband. Now, when I know that it was not the police, I am also deeply shocked that the plane crew did not do anything to help this man. I did not see them help even with first aid afterwards, when he became silent. After all, the crew’s first most important duty is the safety of all passengers – including handcuffed, isn’t it?

“I have been working for many years as an officer on board of cruise ships, I have seen similar situations – never ending so dramatically – and I would never ever imagine the situation like this could happen in the civilised world. Maybe that is because in the UK the authority of police and security is so high? I believe in my country, where police is not so much respected, people would be much more willing to do something witnessing situation like this.” “

Written by modernityblog

19/10/2010 at 00:29