The Samsung conglomerate has medieval working conditions behind modern technology, Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, summed up in her Huffington Post blog on 10 August, as she criticized the world’s largest technology company and its affiliates for poor working conditions.

Moral Compass

“Samsung is a business model that has lost its moral compass, based on exploitation and abuse of human rights at its supply chain,” said Burrow. She announced that the ITUC has started a petition drive to end no-union policy and worker abuse at Samsung.

Petition Drive

The ITUC, based in Brussel,  is a leading voice of the world’s working people. The confederation represents 176 million workers through its 328 affiliated organizations within 162 countries and territories.

All are invited to sign the petition at


The following is a full text of the ITUC’s petition: 

Samsung: end worker abuse and abolish your “no-union” policy now

Samsung has a reputation for modern technology, but also a history of medieval conditions for the estimated 1,500,000 workers entrenched in a vast and shadowy web of subcontractors and subsidiaries that runs deep throughout the region. What’s more, the Asia Monitor Resource Centre (AMRC) reports that Samsung’s “no-union” policy affects the entire Asian electronics industry, “because Samsung Electronics intervenes actively to prevent the formation of unions at its suppliers.”

A leaked PowerPoint presentation — intended for the eyes of corporate bosses only — decrees specific “countermeasures” to be used to “dominate employees.” And the language is shocking. The leaked material instructs managers to: “isolate employees,” “punish leaders,” and “induce internal conflicts.” And that’s just corporate policy. AMRC reports instances of grave abuse, where Samsung “tapped workers’ phones, followed them, and approached their families with threats.”

With a precariously-employed workforce, inhumane conditions are rife. According to China Labor Watch, employees at Samsung factories, some under-aged, suffer through 100 hours of forced overtime per month, unpaid work, standing for 11 to 12 hours, verbal and physical abuse, severe age and gender discrimination, lack of worker safety… During a three-month period while the Samsung Galaxy tablet was being rushed out, one worker testified that she: “slept about two or three hours a night,” and had to stop breastfeeding her three-month-old infant to keep up with schedule.

Samsung is everywhere. If you have a smartphone — an Android or iPhone — there’s a good chance that parts in your phone are produced on factory floors controlled by Samsung and its affiliated companies. Now it’s up to all of us to tell Samsung this must stop now.