GoodElectronics calls upon Asahi Kosei to refrain from legal action and opt for dialoguePhoto: Asahi Kosei worker The Na Soe

In Malaysia a labour dispute has erupted over the treatment of Burmese migrant workers working for Japanese electronics company Asahi Kosei. In support of the Burmese workers threatened with dismissal and deportation, Malaysian and international human rights groups issued a public statement targeting Asahi Kosei. In response to this public statement, Asahi is now demanding compensation and a public apology from Mr Hector, one of the initiators of the campaign, and is threatening with legal steps. In a letter to Asahi and selected buyers sent yesterday, GoodElectronics and other organisations are calling upon the company to refrain from legal action toward human rights defenders and opt for dialogue about the labour dispute.

GoodElectronics calls upon Asahi Kosei to refrain from legal action and opt for dialoguePhoto: Asahi Kosei worker The Na Soe

In Malaysia a labour dispute has erupted over the treatment of Burmese migrant workers working for Japanese electronics company Asahi Kosei. In support of the Burmese workers threatened with dismissal and deportation, Malaysian and international human rights groups issued a public statement targeting Asahi Kosei.

In response to this public statement, Asahi is now demanding compensation and a public apology from Mr Hector, one of the initiators of the campaign, and is threatening with legal steps.

In a letter to Asahi and a selection of its buyers Hitachi, that is JVC, Philips, Seagate, Sony, and Toshiba, sent yesterday, GoodElectronics and other organisations are calling upon the company to refrain from legal action toward human rights defenders and opt for dialogue about the labour dispute. 

GoodElectronics and the other signatories of this letter including makeITfair, the Clean Clothes Campaign and the International Labor Rights Forum, consider Asahi Kosei’s current demands towards Mr Hector to be unreasonable and excessive. We expressed our concerns over the unacceptable use of legal action to silence those who wish to raise human rights concerns. The protection of human rights is dependent on concerns being raised with those that have the opportunity to take action to resolve such violations. Such action does nothing to resolve the issues that lie at the core of this case: namely the industrial relations problems that are clearly present in Asahi's facility.

If Asahi feels the accusations made are unfair it is reasonable to respond to these allegations, in writing or through dialogue to set out your objections. Asahi Kosei should show restraint, discontinue actions against Mr Hector, and opt for dialogue with the initiators of the case in order to resolve this dispute in a manner consistent with respect for human rights and concern for all workers employed in the facility concerned either directly or indirectly.

The issue that has been tabled by Mr Hector and the co-signees of the public statement is most important and relevant in the current Malaysian context. The position of migrant workers should be a concern for a responsible company. Asahi Kosei is expected to seriously look into this.

In the letter reference is made to the code of conduct of the Electronics Industry Citizenship Coalition EICC, which calls “to uphold the human rights of workers, and to treat them with dignity” and refers to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Labour Standards.

In particular, it is stressed that it has become internationally recognised that a company is responsible for the workers who work in its production sites, even if they are not directly employed but hired through an employment agency.

The co-signees of the letter are: makeITfair, Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) International Secretariat, Campagne Vêtements Propres (CCC French speaking Belgium), Labour behind the Label (CCC United Kingdom), Schone Kleren Campagne (CCC Netherlands), and the International Labor Rights Forum.

 

The media are also picking up the matter. Click here here for an article by Joseph Allchin.