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  1. #1
    Demian is offline
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    Sirius sweatshop labor?

    You have got to be kidding me...

    http://www.marketwatch.com/news/stor...C%7D&dist=hppr

    The Dark Side of Sirius Satellite Radio

    Last update: 1:42 p.m. EDT Oct. 20, 2008
    NEW YORK, Oct 20, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Sweatshop Conditions at the Kiryung Electronics Factory

    Labor rights watchdog challenges Howard Stern -- who lampooned Kathie Lee Gifford over the exploitation of child workers in Honduras who sewed her clothing for Wal-Mart -- to confront Sirius Satellite Radio for the abusive sweatshop conditions faced by women workers at the Kiryung Electronics factory in Korea, where they assembled Sirius Satellite Radios.

    WHO: Charles Kernaghan, director, National Labor Committee
    Women workers from the Kiryung Factory in Korea,
    Representatives of the Korean Metal Workers Union.

    WHAT: Attempt to meet with Sirius management. (This will be the third attempt to meet.)
    Press conference

    WHERE: Sirius Satellite Radio headquarters
    1221 Avenue of the Americas (Entrance on 49th St. betw. 6th & 7th Ave.), NYC

    WHEN: Tuesday, October 21, 2008, 1:00 p.m.

    -- Over 250 production line workers at the Kiryung Electronics factory have
    no rights and are held under conditions of constant uncertainty and
    fear.


    -- Married women limited to just three-month contracts so they can be fired
    if they become pregnant.


    -- Workers can be fired for using the bathroom.


    -- Forced to work 13 to 14-hour shifts, six or seven days a week, sometimes
    going for up to three months without a single day off. There are also
    grueling all-night 24-hour shifts two or three times a month.


    -- Workers making Sirius Satellite radios earn just $145 a week, despite
    the fact that the cost of living in Seoul is as high or higher than in
    New York City. Workers and their families must subsist on rice and
    kimchee (pickled cabbage).


    -- In the face of discrimination and abuse, the workers organized a union
    in July 2005. Management immediately threatened to fire the women, who
    then occupied the plant staging a sit-down strike.


    -- Kiryung management informed the workers that at the insistence of Sirius
    Satellite Radio, production of the radios would be relocated to a low
    wage factory in China.


    -- Hired goons also attacked the strikers, stomping, kicking and beating
    the women.


    -- For 1,160 days, the women have continued their strike in front of the
    factory gates. The head of the local union at the Kiryung factory went
    on a hunger strike for 94 days before being hospitalized in
    mid-September. The situation has reached a crisis, which is why the
    workers have come to New York to press Sirius Satelite Radio to
    intervene.

  2. #2
    Demian is offline
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    http://www.nlcnet.org/article.php?id=607

    The Dark Side of Sirius Satellite Radio

    Abusive Sweatshop Conditions at the Kiryung Electronics Factory in South Korea


    Women making Sirius Satellite Radios are stripped of their rights, forced to work grueling hours for below-subsistence wages, and attacked and beaten when they ask for their legal rights.

    Howard Stern lampooned Kathie Lee Gifford over the exploitation of child workers in Honduras who sewed her clothing line. Does Howard Stern now have the independence to challenge Sirius Satellite Radio for exploitation of young women in Asia who make Sirius’s satellite radios?

    Will Martha Stewart and Eminem speak out against the exploitation and violation of women’s rights?

    SUMMARY

    At the Kiryung Electronics Factory in South Korea, young women assembling Sirius Satellite Radios are stripped of their rights and forced to work grueling hours for below-subsistence wages. When the women sought their legal rights, they were attacked and beaten.

    Over 250 production line workers at the Kiryung Electronics factory have no rights and are held under conditions of constant fear.
    Married women are limited to just three-month contracts so they can be fired if they become pregnant.
    Workers can be fired for using the bathroom, requesting to leave “early” when the regular shift ends at 5:00 p.m., for arriving a few minutes late, for asking for a sick day, or being unable to work on a weekend or national holidays.
    Forced to work 13 to 14-hour shifts, six or seven days a week, sometimes going for up to three months without a single day off. There are also grueling all-night 24-hour shifts two or three times a month. After toiling all night, workers must still report for their next shift at 8:00 a.m. the following morning, leaving them working a 38-hour shift. Workers report toiling 100 to 120 hours of overtime a month.
    Workers making Sirius Satelite radios earn just $145 a week, despite the fact that the cost of living in Seoul is just as high, if not higher, than in New York City. Paid below-subsistence wages, workers and their families must subsist on rice and kimchee (pickled cabbage).
    The work pace is so grueling that workers cannot even raise their heads, talk or use the bathroom. The women must learn to “hold their bladder,” but report that they sometimes “leak.”
    In the face of discrimination against pregnant women, the lack of rights, grueling hours and below-subsistence pay, the workers organized a union in July 2005. Management immediately threatened to fire the women, who then occupied the plant staging a sit-down strike. The sit-down lasted 55 days before the workers were driven from the factory by riot police.
    Kiryung management informed the workers that at the insistence of Sirius Satellite Radio, production of the radios would be relocated to a low wage factory in China.
    Hired goons also attacked the strikers, stomping, kicking and beating the women.
    For 1,160 days, the women have continued their strike, setting up a tent city in front of the main gate of the factory. Over 1,000 supporters joined a one-day hunger strike to support the workers. The head of the local union at the Kiryung factory went on a hunger strike for 94 days before being hospitalized in mid-September 2008.
    The struggle for justice continues, as a delegation of striking workers travels to the U.S. on October 15 to confront management at Sirius Satellite Radio and to seek the support of the American people in their just struggle.

    Kiryung Electronics Factory
    Kuro District, Seoul
    South Korea



    Chairman: Mr. Dong-Ryul Choi

    Production: Sirius Satellite Radios.
    (Kiryung management says they developed the satellite radios jointly with Sirius.)

    Workers without rights:

    Altogether, there were about 500 people at the Kiryung plant: 200 in management, research and development and sales, and 300 production line workers. At least 250 of the production line workers were hired under a job category in South Korea called “dispatch workers,” which in the United States would be a status well below that of even temporary workers. The name comes from the dispatch agencies which recruit and place workers in job openings. Once a worker is place in a company such as Kiryung, the dispatch agency has no further relationship with the worker. Dispatch workers have absolutely no rights, earn less than half of what regular permanent workers do and can be arbitrarily fired at the drop of a hat.

    Discrimination against women:

    The vast majority of dispatch production line workers at the Kiryung plant were women. To avoid having to pay maternity leave, management hired married women on just three-month contracts so they can easily be let go—fired—if they became pregnant. Unmarried women were allowed just six-month contracts for the same reason. Older women, who were unlikely to have children, were given one-year contracts.

    Kiryung’s hiring practices blatantly violated Korean laws prohibiting sexual discrimination.


    Workers in constant fear:

    Dispatch, or irregular, workers have zero rights and can be arbitrarily fired for any reason at the drop of a hat. Management’s strategy to maintain a constant level of fear at the plant was to fire one dispatch worker every week. The workers referred to this as management’s “keeping the waters clean”—keeping everyone too terrified to even think of asking for their basic rights.

    Women who could not stay for overtime were fired. Workers who asked for a sick day were terminated. When one woman who was feeling ill asked her line supervisor if she could go home, she was told: “Fine, go home, rest, and never come back again.” Another woman, who had suffered an occupational injury at work and asked to be temporarily moved to another department, was fired on the spot. Workers who arrived late or asked to be allowed to leave “early”—after the regular eight-hour shift—were fired. One woman, whose daughter was in a car accident earlier in the day, dared not leave work until 9:00 p.m. for fear of being fired. Anyone who talked back to a manager would be fired. Indeed, if a line supervisor did not like the looks of one of the women, she was fired.

    Long grueling hours:

    The routine shift for production line workers at the Kiryung factory was 13 to 14 hours a day, from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 or 10:00 p.m. six days a week. (The workers were allowed 40 minutes for lunch, 30 minutes for supper at 5:00 p.m. and two ten-minute breaks, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.) When there were pressing orders for Sirius Satelite radios, the women would work seven days a week, sometimes going for up to three months without a single day off. Before shipments to the U.S., dispatch workers also had to work some all-night shifts, which varied from line to line, but averaged two or three nights a month. After working all day and through the night, the women still had to report at 8:00 a.m. the following morning to work another 13 to 14-hour shift before being allowed to go home to rest. Some of these all-night shifts actually stretched out to 37 or 38 hours of work.

    The workers report being required to remain for 100 or 120 hours of overtime a month.

    Not only did the dispatch workers have to work at night and on weekends, they also had to work through summer vacations and even on the most important national holidays. If there were orders to complete for the Sirius radios, they had to work. This was true even during Korea’s most important holiday, Chuseok, the autumn harvest festival, when everyone travels home to their villages to be with their families and to honor their ancestors. (The importance of the Chuseok holiday could be compared with our Christmas.) It was a bitter experience for the women to be forced to work through this most important holiday.

    The dispatch workers were often tired, exhausted, longing to rest and to spend more time with their families. But they had no other choice than to work the long overtime hours management demanded. If they refused, they would be fired. Also, their regular wages were so low they could not survive without overtime.

    Below-subsistence Wages:

    “We only work, worked like slaves for just 641,850 won [less than $630] a month.”

    Dispatch workers did the exact same work as the full time employees—working right next to one another on the assembly line—yet they earned just about half the wages the regular worker received.

    Dispatch workers earned 641,850 Korean won a month, or just $629.96. (In 2005, there were 1,023.75 won to $1.00 U.S.)

    Dispatch Workers’ Wages

    $3.62 an hour
    $144.68 a week (40 hours)
    $626.96 a month
    $7,523.52 a year

  3. #3
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    Dispatch workers were essentially being paid the minimum wage in South Korea, which does not even come close to meeting basic subsistence level needs. The cost of living in Seoul where the Kiryung factory is located is at least as high, if not higher, as that of New York City. Certainly no one could survive in New York on $3.62 an hour wages, just as they could not make ends meet in Seoul. Despite the long overtime hours, dispatch workers and their families could only afford rice and kimchee, pickled cabbage, as their main staples. Their families also struggled to meet basic tuition costs to send their children to primary school.

    There are 8.6 million dispatch workers in South Korea who are struggling to survive as third class citizens with no rights. This makes the long struggle of the brave women workers at the Kiryung factory all the more critical.

    Not only long hours and no rights—the work was also done at a grueling pace:

    For production line workers assembling Sirius Satellite Radios, the pace was fast and grueling. Production goals were set excessively high and supervisors put constant pressure on the women. The pace was so frantic workers dared not lift their heads and no one talked. Workers could not even use the bathroom. If they did, the work would simply pile up around them in their brief absence. The women tried to time their going to the bathroom to the ten minute breaks in the morning and afternoon. The women had to learn to “hold their bladders,” but there were times they “leaked a little.” Also, if they went to the bathroom too often, they could be fired.


    The Women Fight Back:

    The dispatch workers had had enough, and they decided to fight back. They organized a local union at the Kiryung Factory and affiliated to South Korea’s largest union, the progressive Korean Metal Workers Union (KMWU), which has 150,000 members.

    As soon as the workers organized their union, on July 5, 2005, management threatened to fire every union member who had worked at the factory for less than a year, which was the majority of the production line workers—(given management’s practice of firing workers every week to “keep the waters clean”).

    Not waiting to be fired, the workers went out on strike at 10:00 a.m. on August 24, 2005.

    An Amazing Struggle Begins:

    For 55 days the workers occupied the Kiryung factory, carrying out a sit-down strike between two assembly lines. The 200 strikers remained in the factory 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Korean Metal Workers Union and other supporters brought food to the workers.

    Management immediately started threatening the workers, saying that the Sirius Radio Network in the United States was demanding that Kiryung relocate its production to China in order to cut costs. Either way, the striking workers were doomed, management told them. (A short time later, Kiryung did purchase land in China, building a factory which opened in the summer of 2007. Eighty percent of Kiryung’s production of Sirius Satellite radios are now produced in China. Kiryung uses five subcontract factories in South Korea to produce the other 20 percent of Sirius’s orders.)

    On October 17, 2005 riot police stormed the factory, violently driving the striking workers outside. The strikers immediately took over the area in front of the factory’s main gates and set up a tent city. To date, the workers have continued their strike for going on 1,160 days!

    Management hired 60 to 70 thugs to terrorize the strikers, who referred to as “meatheads” and “goons.” The thugs assaulted the striking women, even strangling and kneeling on top of them to humiliate them. Reportedly management pays these goons $200 a day, which is all the more incredible given that the women earned just $630 a month to make the Sirius Satellite radios!

    Management also organized its regular, full-time male workers into a “We love Kinyung Electric Group,” and they also assaulted the striking workers. During the sit-down strike, these male workers ran through the factory kicking, stomping on and running over the women.

    Management increased the height of its factory walls and installed barbed wire and surveillance cameras both inside and outside the factory. Surveillance cameras inside monitored the areas around the coffee machine, the locker room and bathrooms. Sliding metal gates were installed inside the factory to control the flow of people should the strikers ever find their way inside the plant again.

    Management also filed court suits against 64 of the strikers, claiming their sit-down strike obstructed factory business and is seeking $4.3 million (U.S.) in damages for the strike. (The courts found that the company was vastly over-exaggerating its losses. Obstruction of business is a criminal offense in South Korea, punishable by up to five years in prison. Both the local union president and the vice president spent time in prison for obstructing business.)

    Despite constant attacks over the course of three long years, the mostly women strikers never gave in. For the last 1,160 days they have organized a picket line in front of the factory gate every morning and a candle-light vigil each night. The workers have never missed a single day! Over 1,040 supporters joined a collective one-day hunger strike demanding that the president of Korea step forward to resolve the crisis at Kiryung. On June 10, 2008, ten unionists went on a hunger strike. The chair of the Kiryung union, Ms. So-yeon Kim, continued her hunger strike for 94 days before being hospitalized, seriously weakened, with an irregular heartbeat and lung function.

    For more than three years, the striking workers at the Kiryung factory have fought for justice, respect for fundamental labor rights and an end to the exploitation of dispatch workers, who have been stripped of their rights. On October 15—the very day that a delegation of striking workers and union supporters was to leave for the United States to confront Sirius Radio and seek the support of the American people—the goons again attacked the picket line in front of the factory gate, tearing down the strikers’ tents.

    The striking women and men have shown enormous courage and resolve. Despite constant attacks, the striking workers have already won some precedent-setting breakthroughs that could improve respect for labor rights across Asia. The controversy surrounding the struggle at the Kiryung factory pushed the Korean Government to rule that the indefinite exploitation of dispatch workers is illegal and that the dispatch workers at the Kiryung factoryshould be rehired as full-time, regular workers. Kiryung management refuses to do so, but the Korean Government continues to face significant pressure from the Korean Metal Workers Union (KMWU), the International Metal Workers Federation (IMF) and the U.N.’s International Labor Organization (ILO) to stop the illegal exploitation of dispatch workers.

    The Workers’ Demands

    More than three years after being forced to strike, 32 Kiryung workers remain on the picket line fighting for respect for women’s and labor rights and an end to the exploitation of dispatch, or irregular, workers, who are stripped of their most basic rights.

    Immediate reinstatement of the 32 strikers, as permanent full-time employees at one of Kiryung Electronics sister factories, with no wage, hour or gender discrimination.
    The Kiryung Electronics factory should pay all back wages to these workers, along with compensation for the physical and emotional hardship suffered by the women over the course of the last three years of struggle.
    If Kiryung management has the will and good faith to negotiate with the striking workers, this crisis can finally be positively resolved.

    You can view a very moving slide show put together by the striking workers and the Korean Metal Workers Union at: http://www.nlcnet.org/admin/media/po...Kiryung_en.ppt

  4. #4
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    http://www.nlcnet.org/article.php?id=608

    Letter to Howard Stern

    October 20, 2008

    Mr. Howard Stern
    The Howard Stern Show
    Sirius Satellite Radio
    1221 Avenue of the Americas
    New York, NY 10020

    Dear Mr. Stern:

    I can vividly remember your lampooning of Kathie Lee Gifford after we exposed the fact that 12 and 13-year-old children were sewing her clothing line under abusive sweatshop conditions for pennies an hour in Honduras. I am now sending you a report that documents similar abusive conditions faced by women in South Korea who made Sirius Satellite radios at the Kiryung Electronics factory in Seoul. Management limited married women to just three-month contracts so they could easily be let go—fired—if they became pregnant. The vast majority of production line workers making the Sirius radios were hired as “temps,” a category which stripped them of their basic rights.

    Women could be fired for using the bathroom, arriving a few minutes late to work, requesting a sick day, or if they were unable to work every weekend or on national holidays. In fact, women workers could be fired if the line supervisor did not like the way they looked. The women making the Sirius Satellite radios routinely toiled 13 to 14-hour shifts, six and seven days a week, while being paid below subsistence level wages—trapping them and their children in a poverty-level existence. Before Sirius radio shipments had to leave for the U.S., the women often had to work grueling all-night 24-hour shifts. All overtime was mandatory.

    A delegation of women workers from the Kiryung Electronics factory has travelled to New York City, arriving late Tuesday night, October 15, to seek a meeting with representatives of the Sirius company. They are accompanied by representatives of the Korean Metal Workers Union, Korea’s largest union.

    The women fought back against the exploitative conditions at the Kiryung factory and have been on strike since the summer of 2005. The workers—mostly women—have faced constant harassment, threats and beatings. Factory management hired thugs to attack the strikers. Ten of the women have just ended a hunger strike, including the chairwoman of the local union at Kiryung, who went without food for 94 days. She is now hospitalized.

    A year ago, the Kiryung factory relocated the production of Sirius Satellite radios to a low wage factory in China, telling the workers that it was Sirius management that demanded Kiryung drastically cut costs by moving to China.

    The brave women from the Kiryung factory have come to New York to ask Sirius Satellite Radio to intervene with Kiryung’s management to sit down and negotiate in good faith to finally end this crisis. We will be at the building seeking a meeting with Sirius management at 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, October 22.

    I hope you can help the women, who have suffered long enough. Please call me if you have any questions or ideas. Thank you.

    Sincerely,



    Charles Kernaghan
    Director

  5. #5
    dnay1969 is offline
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    Yeah like we dont have enough problems. Why the F would you open this can of worms

  6. #6
    Demian is offline
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    I'm not the one behind this - it came over the the Dow Jones newswires...

    Are these the workers who make the Starmate 5?

    I bet the NAB, GS, and some hedge funds gave a huge donation to the National Labor Committee......

    Is the National Labor Committee allowed to short stocks?

    If they are so underpaid, how could they afford the air fare to New York?

    I can't even afford the air fare to the shareholders meeting in New York......
    Last edited by Demian; 10-20-2008 at 03:36 PM.

  7. #7
    jord3t is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Demian View Post
    I'm not the one behind this - it came over the the Dow Jones newswires...

    Are these the workers who make the Starmate 5?

    I bet the NAB, GS, and some hedge funds gave a huge donation to the National Labor Committee......

    Is the National Labor Committee allowed to short stocks?

    If they are so underpaid, how could they afford the air fare to New York?

    I can't even afford the air fare to the shareholders meeting in New York......
    its an independant organization, so they aren't influenced by NAB as far as I can tell.

    But the article singles out sirius when they are not the only company who has their equipment manufactured there.

    I doubt NAB would touch this since Kiryung factory also manufactures HD radios.

    It looks to me like Charles Kernaghan uses his platform to target companies that don't agree with his personal views, but he probably gives a pass to those that he doesnt mind.

    if that were not the case, why target O&A and Howard, and leave out HD radio?

  8. #8
    Demian is offline
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    It's all about getting press. Targeting HD radio would get no press - targeting Sirius and Howard Stern will....

    Free advertising for satellite radio?

  9. #9
    jord3t is offline
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    Media whore

    Quote Originally Posted by Demian View Post
    It's all about getting press. Targeting HD radio would get no press - targeting Sirius and Howard Stern will....

    Free advertising for satellite radio?
    So what youre saying is Charles Kernaghan is a media whore? :-)

  10. #10
    jord3t is offline
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    Im not defending the practice of outsourcing

    I think its a really bad thing for US workers. I'm in the tech industry and have seen many of my colleagues lose their jobs in droves because of the practice.

    But you also have to take into consideration that to compete in this current market, a company has to outsource or die.

    If were going to start slinging mud, then every big corporation out there has a "dark side."

    Why is Charles Kernaghan targeting Howard Stern? Howard has nothing to do with the decision about who to hire to build satellite radios.

    Why not go to the source of the problem and send a letter to congress? they are the ones who wrote the laws that started the whole outsourcing movement.

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