“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Posts Tagged ‘India

Poor Conditions, Union Recognition And Nokia.

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A Nokia supplier in India, BYD Electronics, has locked out workers after they struck for better conditions and union recognition, The Hindu covers it:

“The China-based BYD Electronics, which supplies mobile parts to Nokia and employs 2,000 workers has declared a lockout at its unit here.

Police said talks had already been held between representatives of employees and management last week on the workers demands, which include recognising the Centre of the Indian Trade Union as the factory union and also a three tier shift system, but to no avail.

A further round of talks are slated for November 8.

On October 28, a section of workers resorted to a sit-in strike, reportedly irked by the delay in finding a solution, which the management termed illegal, as they had not been given any notice about it.

In turn the management outsourced semi-skilled and skilled workers through a manpower agency to complete production targets.”

That’s the price of cheap phones, poor conditions and low wages, how similar to Foxconn.

Update 1: The International Metalworkers’ Federation has more:

“Protesting against job insecurity and low wages, the workers at BYD Electronics held a meeting on October 9 to form a union, with the help of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU). In response management planned to lay-off around 100 workers. On October 21 workers conducted a 24-hour sit-in strike forcing management to talks at the Assistant Commissioner of Labour Office. Talks broke down when on October 27 the management insisted that they will only talk about directly employed workers and not discuss contract workers’ issues.

The level of intimidation and threats from management during this dispute resulted in one worker who handed out union leaflets attempting to commit suicide on October 27 by drinking isopropyl alcohol after intense questioning by management. In another case a contract worker was forced by the contract agency to sign a resignation letter, when he refused he was stripped off his uniform and identity card and forced to go out of the factory. The contract agencies also went to the workers’ houses and threatened the parents that if their son or daughter continues to engage in union activities, they will be dismissed and a police complaint will be launched against them.

BYD electronics is one of the major cell phone parts suppliers to Nokia India Private Limited and employs around 3000 workers, of which 850 workers are directly employed by the factory while remaining contract workers are employed through recruitment agencies. These contract workers are laid-off at will without any compensation. Everyday workers have to call their supervisors to find out whether to come to work or not. All workers have to work for 12 hours a day from 8am to 8pm without any compensation for overtime. A worker with four years experience receives the salary of only Rs 5,400 (US $121)”

Written by modernityblog

02/11/2010 at 23:30

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

Snow and Rainfall.

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I suppose I should have written much more about the environment and climate change as these issues have concerned me for over 20 years, but now I hope to rectify that omission.

Global warming is not just about the temperature heating up, it’s also about changing patterns of expected seasons, and in some cases increased volatility in weather systems. Obviously this varies from place to place and depends on the time of the year.

Receding snowlines in Nepal are just one indicator, which mountaineers have noticed for years, another is the change in expected rainfall, as the BBC reports:

“Once the world’s wettest places, Cherrapunji is getting up to 20% less rain every year – and is suffering water shortages.

Cherrapunji’s weather office says the average annual rainfall in the town has dropped by about 20% in the last five years – though the trend started a decade ago.

“It is basically since 2005 that we are often getting 800cm-900cm of rain in Cherrapunji annually – against the normal average of 1100cm,” says one of the office’s staff, Amit Chaudhuri.

But the town has been getting drier due to erratic rain since the beginning of the decade, Mr Chaudhuri says.”

Written by modernityblog

20/12/2009 at 04:13

Not Enough Laws.

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In the West we often think how hard done by we are, by the law.

Too many laws, too many restrictions, but have you ever considered that one law was starkly missing, one for: corporate manslaughter.

I have long thought that a law on corporate manslaughter is a dire necessity, but until 2008 there wasn’t one, and certainly it should have been used in light of Trafigura’s corporate neglect and poisoning of Ivory Coast residents.

Still, older readers will remember how that was not the first, nor the last occasion when a large company absolved itself of guilt by paying a few hundred million dollars, washing their hands of any guilt.

Another company did that too, Union Carbide.

Twenty-five years ago the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India released a toxic gas into the area around the plant, about 4000 died immediately.

Tens of thousands died within a few days of being exposed to the toxic gas, and yet whilst they were liable Union Carbide did not accept responsibility, eventually paying about $400 million damages to the Madhya Pradesh government, and building a hospital.

Even to this day the Union Carbide plant still pollutes the locality, and yet no one in the corporation has been found guilty of mass murder or negligence.

25 years on there is still the need for an enforceable international corporate manslaughter law, 25 years on we should remember the people of Bhopal.

Written by modernityblog

03/12/2009 at 03:56

Never Really Mentioned.

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We have reached the first year anniversary of the killing spree that took place in Mumbai, India in 2008.

I remember following it avidly as I suspect many people did. The smoke billowing out of the plush hotel, the pictures of scattered belongings and bloodstains in the railway station, and the siege at Chabad House.

Like most people at the time I was mystified as to how this could happen and who would carry it out, but one thing struck me about the news coverage, how they never asked why Chabad House was attacked, in the first place.

Why was it attacked?

I am not sure if there was some set of unwritten assumptions at play, or it just didn’t occur to the collective journalists that this was more than a curiosity.

By that I mean, Mumbai is a massive city, comprising some 13 million inhabitants, twice the size of London, five times the size of Paris, in terms of population.

The extended city of Mumbai has about 19 million inhabitants, enormous by any standards.

Therefore, finding that very small community of Jews in that city would be a serious endeavour. It would not be a trivial task. Locating a dozen or so people of a certain ethnicity amongst 13 million people is exceedingly difficult.

Yet that point wasn’t covered in any detail, as far as I remember, by the Western media.

I suppose that if a particular group of murderers decided to hunt out any natives of Tuvalu, living in London and kill them then surely that would be odd and the reasons behind it worthy of attention?

That is the parallel, searching for a minute community in a massive city, torturing them and finally murdering them in the most brutal way.

But it was not really mentioned by the Western media. As far as I can work out the killings at Chabad House doesn’t seem to have been seen as worthy of consideration, with no significant coverage or questions being asked by the media. Curious and, in many ways, a bit disturbing as to what it tells us about certain Western attitudes.

[Tuvalu (and all that comprises it) is one of the smallest nation in world]

Written by modernityblog

26/11/2009 at 20:29