US and Taiwanese labor and environmental activists yesterday protested in Taipei City against the Koo's Group, urging the corporation to solve disputes in the US surrounding one of its subsidiaries, Continental Carbon Company.
Accusations have been leveled at Continental Carbon for maintaining poor labor conditions and causing environmental pollution.
Accompanied by dozens of Taiwanese activists, representatives of the US-based Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical and Energy Workers Union (PACE) yesterday demonstrated in front of the Taiwan Cement Corp (
High-ranking managers of TCC, one of Continental Carbon's parent companies, have promised to arrange a meeting next week with labor representatives of the Taiwan Confederation of Trade Unions (TCTU, 全國產業總工會), which assists PACE's demonstration.
US labor union representatives demanded TCC -- along with Continental Carbon's other parent company, China Synthetic Rubber Corp (
Established in the 1960s, Continental Carbon was purchased by CSRC and TCC in 1995. With its headquarters in Houston, Texas, the company owns and operates three plants in Oklahoma, Alabama and Texas.
Ernie Anderson of PACE said that 86 workers at the plant had been locked out since last May, after they refused to renew their contracts, which contained terms the workers deemed unacceptable.
The workers say they earn 40 percent less than workers at a sister plant in Texas and have longer working hours too.
According to an open letter to the Koo's Group, which was published in the United Evening News on March 7, PACE representatives believe that Continental Carbon was trying to break the union plant by plant.
Todd Carlson, who has worked at Continental Carbon's Oklahoma plant for 11 years and is one of 86 locked-out union workers, urged TCC and CSRC to force Continental Carbon to face up to controversial issues pertaining to labor safety and environmental quality.
Doing what it takes
"We will fight in any way possible," Carlson said, adding that the management of Continental Carbon would have to improve conditions before the workers would consider signing new contracts.
Joseph Drexler, director of special projects at PACE, said that the company was also under fire for carelessly discharging waste water and dumping hazardous waste in the community.
"Two weeks ago, the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality filed a complaint against Continental Carbon after investigating environmental pollution activities reported by its workers," Drexler said, adding that the labor union, will sue Continental Carbon in the US by the end of April.
On the last day of their one-week visit to Taiwan, PACE representatives yesterday said they were disappointed with the Koo family for failing to face up to the issues at hand.
TCTU President Huang Ching-hsien (
Huang said that even though the workers were a long way from Taiwan, he would still fight for justice.