In a show of solidarity between Taiwanese labor unions and their counterparts in South Korea, scores of protesters yesterday held a rally in Taipei, calling on Taiwan’s E Ink Holdings (EIH) to revoke its decision to shut down two factories owned by Hydis Technologies — an EIH subsidiary in South Korea.
Dressed in traditional Korean white robes, six representatives from the Hydis employees’ union led a procession toward the Yeung Foong Yu (YFY Group) offices — of which EIH is an affiliate — while more than 150 Taiwanese workers and union activists followed behind.
In a gesture symbolizing anger and despair, the six representatives knelt down and touched their foreheads to the ground for every three steps they took, acting in unison to the beat of a gong.
The South Koreans said the shutdowns would cost nearly 800 workers their jobs — including more than 350 Hydis employees as well as workers from Hydis’ client companies.
Founded in 2001 as a spinoff of troubled Hyundai Electronics, Hydis was acquired by China’s BOE technology in 2003. The company later filed for court receivership in 2006 after BOE executives were accused of leaking technology to China.
Although YFY Group promised to maintain the company’s operations in South Korea when it acquired Hydis in 2008, more than 600 employees have been laid off in the past few years, the activists said.
In a written statement issued by the Hydis employees’ union, the South Korean activists accused EIH of following in the footsteps of their former Chinese parent company.
The union representatives described the recent shutdowns as an “eat-and-run scam,” saying that EIH stopped investing in the South Korean production lines after it obtained Hydis’ technologies in Fringe Field Switching (FFS) – a key technology in the LCD electronics industry.
They said that Hydis saw profits of more than NT$2.8 billion (US$88.89 million) last year, adding that it was against South Korean labor regulations for a profitable company to implement a mass layoff of its employees.
Former manager at Hydis’ production section and union representative Koh Woo-jung said only 10 to 15 employees remained at their posts after the mass layoffs, most of them in postions related to the patented technologies.
“This is the first instance in South Korea in which owners of a company instigated a mass layoff of employees even though it was making profits,” labor activist Eom Miya said through an interpreter. “We traveled across the seas to Taiwan because of our belief that there are no national boundaries when it comes to the protection of workers’ rights.”
Hydis employees’ union leader Woo Boo-ki, who has more than 20 years of experience as a production line worker, said that severance packages were of no use to former employees, who are interested in retaining steady jobs.
Taiwan Association for Human Rights director Yen Szu-yu (顏思妤) said that EIH should follow through on its 2008 promises to allow Hydis to maintain ownership of the patents and manage the subsidiary adequately.
Several Taiwanese labor groups and unions voiced their support for the South Korean workers, including members of the Former Freeway Toll Collectors’ Self-Help Organization, the Shin Hai Gas Corp Employees’ Union and the the Taoyuan Confederation of Labor Unions.
In related news, laid-off freeway toll collectors and National Alliance for Workers of Closed Factories members yesterday protested over unresolved issues regarding the laid-off workers’ severance package and compensation for labor pensions, calling the government a Nian (年獸) a mythical beast that is said to attack people over the Lunar New Year holiday.
The dispute with the laid-off toll collectors has entered its 14th month, encompassing the rout of the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) in the nine-in-one elections in November last year and the replacements of the premier and the minister of transportation and communications, “but the government has still failed to offer any substantial solution to the dispute,” the group said.
“We are calling on Premier Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國), who was the minister of transportation and communications when the toll booths were replaced by the eTag freeway system, run by the Far Eastern Group under a build, operate and transfer [BOT] model, to come out and face up to the predicament of laid-off toll collectors enduring their second Lunar New Year out of work without any of their problems resolved,” organization member Kuo Kuan-chun (郭冠均) said.
The group set off firecrackers and burned a papermade Nian with photographs of the premier and the former and current ministers if transport and communications on it, claiming the act as symbolic of people driving away a government monster that formed by the exploitation of workers with contract-based employment and BOT contracts that hurt labor rights.
Taiwan might be China’s next target after it has “walled off” Hong Kong from the rest of the world with its new national security legislation, Academia Sinica Institute of Sociology fellow Wu Jieh-min (吳介民) said on Thursday. At a seminar organized by the Economic Democracy Union, the Taiwan Association for Human Rights, the Hong Kong Outlanders and the Judicial Reform Foundation, Wu said that the legislation is simultaneously a fig leaf concealing Beijing’s autocratic rule in Hong Kong and a figurative “Berlin Wall,” denying democratic countries access to Hong Kong. Wu said it is evident that Taiwan would be China’s next target. The
SAFETY CONCERNS: A construction company working nearby admitted to negligence in the incident, and is to pay a fine and other expenses related to damages Residents of homes adjacent to an alleyway in New Taipei City’s Yonghe District (永和) on Saturday were forced to evacuate their homes after the road collapsed, the New Taipei City government said yesterday. An 80m by 4m area in an alleyway on Wenhua Road (文化路) collapsed at 10:39am near an apartment building construction site where work was being done on the project’s foundation. The incident also ruptured an underground gas pipe and tilted several buildings in the area. Residents would not be able to return to their homes until tomorrow or Wednesday, when repairs are expected to be finished, the city government said. Workers
CHALLENGER DEEP: Lin Ying-Tsong was invited by Caladan Oceanic founder Victor Vescovo to join him on a 10-hour long trip in the company’s submersible Taiwanese-American Lin Ying-Tsong (林穎聰) last month became the first person from Asia and the 12th in human history to dive into the deepest part on Earth, the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench. Lin, 45, an expert in deep sea acoustics with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Massachusetts, joined US adventurer and Caladan Oceanic founder Victor Vescovo, 54, on June 22 in a descent to the central pool of the Challenger Deep, the deepest point of the trench, which lies at a depth of more than 10,900m. The pair made the descent in a submersible named Limiting Factor, a US$37
ARMS RACE: Two DPP lawmakers said that China’s development model differed from Taiwan’s, as it aims to become a global hegemon, while Taiwan seeks to protect itself Taiwanese national defense experts are split on how Taiwan should respond to the ever-growing budget of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA), with some advocating for Taiwan to increase defense spending, while others say that little can be done. The Legislative Yuan approved NT$358 billion (US$12.1 billion) for national defense spending across fiscal 2020, a 3.47 percent increase compared with last year, while China’s military budget this year is NT$5.4 trillion, more than 15 times that of Taiwan. Regardless of whether the government adopts a zero-based budgeting method for national defense spending — in which all expenses are justified and approved each