The logo of Samsung Electronics is seen at its headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, July 4, 2016. Photo: Reuters, Kim Hong-Ji
The logo of Samsung Electronics is seen at its headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, July 4, 2016. Photo: Reuters, Kim Hong-Ji

Samsung is one of the leading companies in the global smartphone market. The company continuously launches new mobile devices, luring customers across the world. Some customers may love Samsung for its innovative products. For workers, however, the chaebol is notorious for abusing workers’ rights with its “no-union” policy.

Last year, Samsung was accused of deliberately disbanding the union of its service center. Some of Samsung’s affiliates and a department of its headquarters, which deals with labor disputes, have persistently oppressed some service center staff for joining a trade union. It has blacklisted workers who have joined the union, pushing them into quitting the union, and cutting salaries of union members.

The conglomerate has also monitored union members on whether they were trying to organize a protest against the company. With such threats, the Samsung service center has also appealed to the union to follow the company’s no-union stance, under the name of an agreement on a labor dispute. Frustrated by Samsung, one union member committed suicide in 2014. The company, however, was accuse of bribing police into disturbing the funeral of the late worker, fretting that his death would prompt the union to stage a protest against Samsung.

Similar cases can be found across the world. Samsung has tried to disband a labor union at a factory in Indonesia. Concerns by a full-time employee at the plant over ill-treatment of his co-workers, mostly dispatched workers, led him to organize the union. Many dispatched workers have been fired by the company, or receive lower salaries than permanent workers, even though they are often overworked. Employees have urged Samsung to improve the treatment of its workers, but the company has played down their requests. Later, the plant manager persuaded workers to leave the union.

Alas, Indonesia is not alone in witnessing Samsung’s union sabotage. At a factory in Vietnam, Samsung has even allegedly censored workers’ social media to monitor whether they are criticizing the company, as well as repressing union members as it did in Indonesia. And in India, a worker was reportedly fired simply because she tried to join a union. Small wonder that Samsung has been sued for violating the labor laws of some countries, including by union sabotage. Even after such lawsuits, the Korean conglomerate sticks to its no-union policy.

While Samsung has been bashing away on attracting customers with various promotion tactics, satisfying customers’ demands, beating competitors in the global market, it has been looking down on its workers. Samsung is wrong to oppress workers for joining labor unions. Workers are just calling for the company to respect their rights.

Innovation and advanced technology have largely contributed to making Samsung one of the biggest global companies. However, that is not all that has made Samsung’s business thrive across the world. Workers who are toiling away for Samsung must also be credited with its growth. This is what Samsung has to keep in mind.

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