By Jolovan Wham –
In the last few months, I have been approached by over one hundred migrant Chinese women and men who are factory workers in Panasonic's plant in Singapore. My colleague and I spoke with the management but we were unable to achieve anything out of the discussions. The workers also failed in their negotiation for better working conditions. Finally, they have decided to send in a petition.
Please email Mr Yorihisa Shiokawa, Managing Director of Panasonic, Asia Pacific at [email protected], and urge him to listen to the concerns of the workers. This is the text of the petition, translated from Chinese. The original version in Chinese is available here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/103249490/Panasonic-Petition
The petition has garnered a total of 118 signatures from the workers themselves:
We represent the voices of hundreds of Chinese factory workers, who are unhappy and tired. Like the vast majority of migrant workers, we have come to Singapore with the hope of a better life for our families and loved ones back home. We don’t mean to create trouble, and we just want a deal that is fair for all of us. As one of the leading electronics companies in the world, we have come to expect decent employment practices in our working environment.
Your company has pledged itself to uphold the following principles:
(1) Respect for Human Rights and human resource development
(2) Taking into account the laws and labor practices of each country, the company will try to foster a good relationship with its employees and to resolve issues of, among others, workplace and working conditions by constantly having a sincere and constructive dialogue.
(3) The Company will respect human dignity and strive to provide an environment that encourages employees to realize their full potential.
(4) Managers will fulfill their tasks based on the recognition that personnel development is their most important responsibility.
(5) We will strive to act as a respectable member of society, as well as a good member of the Company, utilizing common sense and respect for others.
Regrettably, our experience, is quite removed from what your company espouses. These are our grievances:
1) We are not allowed to keep a copy of our employment contract, despite repeated requests.
2) Our basic salary of $500 is too low, which means that many of us have to work beyond the legal limit of 72 hours of overtime so we can earn a decent wage.
3) We are not given sufficient notice of our overtime duties. Most of the time, we are only told the day itself, and this makes it difficult for us to plan other activities in our lives.
4) Many of us have paid up to $6000 for this job, only to find out when we arrived that the local employment agent, which was engaged by Panasonic has over charged us and violated Singaopore’s Employment Agencies Act. As a leading MNC in the electronics industry, we are concerned that the company has engaged an employment agency which exploits our vulnerability and ignorance of Singapore’s laws.
5) Our attempts to seek redress for our grievances are not taken seriously by the management.
We sincerely hope that active steps will be taken to look into these issues so that we can continue working well for the company.