Shocked by YFO workers twice a day, HTC still doesn't mind the labor condition of Its supplier

HTC has been shocked and embarrassed for twice one April 2 by the workers in Young Fast Optoelectronics (YFO), one of its touch panel suppliers who violates the labor laws, exploits the workers and attacks the union.

HTC is an electronic corporation which has focused and made great success on mobile phones. While cooperating with Microsoft and Qualcomm, HTC is facing a legal case with Apple which accuses it for patent infringement. YFO, one of HTCs main suppliers for touch panel, the core of HTC’s new mobile phones, on the other hand, has been accused of violating multiple articles of labor laws and dismissed 5 union cadres and more than 10 union members illegally in mid-March.

On the morning of April 2, 2010, members and supporters of Young Fast Opto-electronics Trade Union (YFOTU) and National Federation of Independent Trade Unions (NAFITU) went to the ground-breaking ceremony of the new Headquarters of HTC in Xindian, Taipei. Police tried to silence and stop the protesters and therefore made a few clashes when the latter shouted and made noise to interrupt the ceremony to be heard, demanding HTC President Wang Xue-Hong to talk to the workers and regulate YFO’s violation to the laws and maltreatments to the workers.

Mr. Dong, the Vice General Manager for Asia and Pacific Regions of HTC had came out to entertain the protesters shortly and promised to talk to them in HTC’s meeting room. However, after being asked to state HTC’s attitude regarding YFO’s violations to the laws and maltreatments to the workers, Mr. Dong failed to answer and just returned to the ceremony without any further information.

When the cars of Premier Wu Dun-Yi and HTC President Wang Xue-Hong left the ceremony, protesters tried to approach to the cars and clashed with the police again.

In the afternoon of the same day, protesters showed up again in HTC’s launching party for its new mobile phone product—HTC Smart. Two protesters stood up to the stage and shouted the demands when Peter Chou, CEO of HTC, Paul E. Jacobs, CEO of Qualcomm and Lu Xue-Jin, President of Chunghwa Telecom entertained the press. The security guards moved away the protesters while the others were shouting at the entrance of the party and clashing with the security guards.

Even being embarrassed by the protesters, Wang Xue-Hong, President of HTC still said she doesn’t know about the case and that YFO is “a supplier of (our) down-stream (original) suppliers”. Meanwhile, Peter Chou, CEO of HTC stated that all companies shall treat their workers well and that HTC “would not interfere the in-ner management of other companies”.

Here are more background information of this case:

YFO in Taoyuan County is one of the biggest manufacturers of touch panel in the world, and its major orders are from HTC, Samsung, LG and other world-known big brands. YFO, who has around 1,400 workers in Taiwan and around 3,000 in China and Vietnam, has once rushed to over NT$500 (approximately $15.68) per share in the stock market, operating margins NT$4.925 billion (approximately $154.48 million) and NT$22.53 (approximately $0.7) full-year earnings per share in the year of 2009. Because of the tremendous earnings, the board of YFO agree for NT$10 ($0.31) per share as cash dividend which amounting to NT1.33 billion ($41.718 million) in the same year.

Beyond the stunning profit and the luxury “pride of Taiwan” mobile phones is a miserable labor condition. YFO calculate the overtime illegally and pay less overtime for several thousands NT dollars per month for every worker, so the workers in YFO work overtime for more than 100 hours and earn only roughly NT30,000 ($941) per month. YSO is also suspected to lower the amount of labor and health insurance and hire a large number of migrant workers and young workers under 16 in the name of “interns”.

The workers in YFO could no longer stand the labor condition and established a trade union on December, 2009, but YFO sabotaged the union by transferring a pro-duction line to China and dismissed 5 union cadres (2 executive board members, 2 board members, and 1 auditor) and more than 10 members altogether. It is a severe anti-worker, anti-union unfair labor practice and violation to the labor laws which undermines the rights to organize of the workers, which is merely among the other basic labor rights advocated by ILO, ITUC and GUFs.

It is evident that YFO has so many orders that the workers have to work for long overtime extensively, and that YFO hires large numbers of migrant workers and “in-tern” childlabors, it is so daring that YFO could layoff the cadres and members in the excuse of “the business suffers an operating loss or contraction; a change in business nature requires a reduction of workers and the particular workers cannot be assigned to another suitable position; and a particular worker is clearly not able to perform sat-isfactorily the duties required of the position held.” It is surely a blatant disregard not only to the union, but also to the labor laws and authority of the Taiwan government.

The actions on April 2 were taken out of the despair and anger that no real re-sponse and actions had been taken from the government and YFO after several times of labor disputes settlement meetings and petitions both in the level of local and cen-tral government.

Members of YFOTU are far from satisfied by the reactions of YFO, HTC and the labor authorities. Furthermore, YFOTU can not agree with the statement of HTC that they can not interfere the management of its suppliers; on the contrary, YFOTU be-lieves that monitoring the working condition as part the code of conduct is merely part of the corporate social responsibility that applied by most of the modern multi-national corporations. YFOTU would continue to pressure Taiwan government and international brands including HTC who are the main customers of YFO.

The demands of YFOTU are:

1.Negotiate with YFOTU and set up concrete plans to monitor the solving of its labor disputes with YFO.

2.Help YFOTU to dialogue with YFO, and YFO shall reinstate all the ille-gally-dismissed workers, increase the working conditions, give back the over-time wages and stop to sabotage the union.

3.Establish the code of conduct in HTC, monitor all suppliers to follow the la-bor laws and the conduct, fulfilling the corporate social responsibility.

YFOTU asks for solidarity from all trade unions to pressure the Taiwan govern-ment and the international brands to respect the labor rights and rights.

Relevant information:

The weblog of YFOTU: (Most of its contents are in Chinese while some are in English)

The photos of the actions mentioned in this report: