Message-ID: <199704292216.PAA01633@fraser>
Date: Tue, 29 Apr 1997 15:16:13 -0700
Sender: Forum on Labor in the Global Economy <LABOR-L@YORKU.CA>
From: D Shniad <shniad@SFU.CA>
Subject: Women and Working Conditions in Mexican Border Industries

Workers Take Action Against Sexual and Physical Abuse in Daewoo Maquiladora

From Support Committee for Maquiladora Workers, 29 April, 1997

The following emergency alert was issued by the Support Committee for Maquiladora Workers, Craftsman Hall, 3909 Centre St. #210, San Diego, CA 92103 Phone (619) 542-0826 Fax (619) 295-5879 The Support Committee for Maquilador Workers is affiliated with the Coalition for Justice in the Maquiladoras.

Workers at the Hyo Seung maquiladoras in San Luis Rio Colorado, Mexico have filed actions with the Public Ministry and the Labor Board against sexual abuse, physical beating and multiple violations of labor law. The plant, which opened just several months ago, employs 66 workers, and is located near the Mexican border with Yuma, Arizona about 120 miles east of Tijuana.

Women workers, who form the majority of the workforce, report that they have each been subjected to sexual harassment by the Company President Kwang Beom Shin and Company Directors Mr. Oh and Mr. Lee, including touching them and offering them money for sex, with the threat that they will lose their jobs if they do not agree. When the directors believe a worker has committed an error he or she is locked up in a "punishment room" where they are exposed to toxic solvents without ventilation. The company president regularly enters the women's bathroom to demand the women hurry to return to work, grabbing them and pushing them. Both directors and the president of the company regularly insult the workers, calling them "dogs" and other slurs and stating that one Korean is worth 10 Mexicans. Workers also report that they are made to take Korean medicines of unknown contents by the directors. No doctor or nurse is present when these "medicines" are distributed.

The three Korean management personnel often are inebriated on the job, drinking in the plant and offering liquor to minors working in the plant. On March 3, a 17 year old worker was beaten repeatedly in the stomach by Mr. Oh, who accused the youth of stealing his wallet. The worker was then locked in the "punishment room" for one and a half hours and forced to sign a resignation from the company. Mr. Oh later found the wallet he had misplaced and nothing was missing from it.

Workers report they are paid the equivalent of $3.37 per day and work from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. with only one 40 minute break. Many are forced to work overtime until 10:00 p.m. with only one additional 15 minute break and without being paid extra as required by law. Workers are exposed to lead and solvents throughout the work day without proper protections such as safety glasses, masks and ventilation.

Five Hyo Seung workers were unjustifiably fired in the two weeks prior to March 12 for speaking out against this abuse. Hyo Seung workers have formed an organizing committee and are demanding all violations of labor rights be corrected and that the fired workers be reinstated.

The Hyo Seung plant in one of seven Daewoo plants in San Luis which produces remote controls that sell under the brand names of Daewoo, General Electric, Hitachi, and Sony. Other Daewoo plants in San Luis produce Daewoo televisions and VCRs. Daewoo is a Korean-based conglomerate that hopes to commandeer 10% of the world's electronics market by the year 2000. It has a history of worker abuse in many parts of the world. In January of 1993, for example, the International Labor Organization upheld a Pakistani union's complaints that Daewoo cooperated with Pakistani government officials to try to intimidate workers on a road- construction project from organizing a union. Union members reported they were arrested and sent to an insane asylum where they were subjected to police torture, including electric shock, having chili powder forced into their mouths and being forced to sit naked on blocks of ice.

Urgent Action Requested:

Please send letters demanding the Hyo Seung maquiladora cease its sexual and physical abuse of workers, end all violations of workers' rights and reinstate the workers who were illegally fired.

Fax to: Soon-Hoon Bae, Chairman & CEO
Daewoo Electronics Corporation of America,
1055 West Victoria St.
Compton, CA 90220 USA
The fax number for Daewoo is (310) 763-0447.

Fax a copy to: Support Committee for Maquiladora Workers
(619) 295-5879