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IndustriALL flags labour violation in iPhone 6 production

9 July, 2014Electronics multinational NXP will reportedly supply the microchip technology in the new iPhone 6. IndustriALL Global Union has called on Apple to intervene and ensure a fair settlement in NXP’s Philippine operations, including a return to work for 24 sacked trade unionists.

Trade unions in a number of countries marked an international day of action on 2 July calling for reinstatement of the NXP 24. First Union in New Zealand kicked off the day and was followed by actions particularly in the Asia-Pacific region. The NXP workers being vindictively attacked by their local management are members of the Philippine metalworkers union, affiliated to IndustriALL, MWAP.

Included in the sacked 24 trade unionists is national MWAP union president Reden Alcantara.

IndustriALL Global Union general secretary Jyrki Raina explained in his 8 July letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook:

The malicious union-busting by NXP management in Cabuyao, Laguna, Philippines casts a dark shadow over the upcoming iPhone 6. Consumers will be disappointed to learn that at this key stage in the production of the iPhone 6 workers are denied their fundamental rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining. If Apple does not urgently act to fix this problem, the sacking of 24 trade union activists under fraudulent pretenses to punish workers for organizing will not only constitute a bad breach of international instruments ILO Conventions 87 and 98, it will send the clearest signal of Apple’s attitude towards the workers in the developing world who make their products.  

We expect an urgent and effective intervention from Apple to fix this problem at NXP Philippines so that you continue to source from this facility while ensuring it complies with your supplier responsibility guidelines. We know that NXPSCI supplies a number of well-known brands, and expect Apple to lead the response in reaching a solution.

The local NXP subsidiary in question is NXP Semiconductors Cabuyao Incorporated (NXPSCI). Located in one of the Philippines’ special economic zones, notorious for hostility towards unions and high levels of outsourcing, NXPSCI employs around 5,000 workers.

The NXPSCI workers’ union attempted to conduct good faith collective bargaining with management to renew the existing CBA from December 2013. The two priorities of the union bargaining unit was to increase the low wages by 8 percent, and to regularize the precariously employed contract workers at the plant, some of whom have been working on rolling contracts for over two years.

To bust the union and block the demand for increased salaries, local management sacked 24 leading trade unionists on 5 May on the sham charges of not reporting to work on 9, 17 and 19 April and 1 May. The 9, 17 and 19 April are all national holidays in the Philippines, and 1 May is Labour Day which the existing CBA stipulates union members can take off work to mark the day. The NXPSCI work rules say that management can request employees to work on holiday days at double salary, however no request was made to work on these days in April and May. The 24 trade union leaders’ absence from work was labeled by management as an illegal strike.

A list of further aggressive tactics has been employed by the management to force through a new CBA on their terms and to completely bust the union.

Over 8,000 supporters have signed up to the online campaign run by IndustriALL, MWAP and LabourStart since the dismissals.

NXP has a history of gross labour rights violations, including during a lockout by NXP of workers in Thailand last year. NXP is now also in dispute with IndustriALL affiliate ROCMU over non-payment of a bonus at its facility in Taiwan.    

While IndustriALL is currently challenging Samsung for its labour violations in Korea, Apple is Samsung’s main competitor. IndustriALL expects both market leading electronics brands to ensure minimum international labour standards throughout their supply chains, and treat the workers that make their products with respect.