OFWs sue Taiwan multi-national and Apple partner for labor rights violations

More than a hundred women overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) trooped to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to file charges against their former employer Siliconware Precision Industries Co. Ltd. (SPIL) for labor rights violations.

SPIL is “World No. 3” in the industry of providing comprehensive semiconductor assembly and test services. It is a major supplier for leading mobile phone brands such as Apple, Samsung and Huawei. For over a decade, SPIL contracts 3,000 Filipino workers for its seven factories in Taiwan.

The OFWs, who named their group as SPILiansUnite and was organized by Migrante International, are former factory workers from Taiwan who served under SPIL for 3 to 12 years. In their their complaint, the group declared:

“Nangibang-bayan kami at nanungkulan sa SPIL bitbit ang pag-asa na sa pamamagitan ng pagtrabaho sa Taiwan ay mabibigyan namin ng magandang kinabukasan ang aming mga pamilya. Subalit makalipas ang maraming taon, bigo ang aming mga pangarap dahil sa hindi makatarungang palakad ng SPIL katuwang ang mga lokal at foreign agencies na kaugnayan nito. Hindi kami pinasahod ng tama, siningil ng iligal at labis na mga bayarin, hindi tinupad ang aming kontrata, isinawalang bahala ang aming kalusugan at iba pang paglabag sa aming mga karapatan.”

(We went abroad and worked for SPIL with the hope that through our employment in Taiwan our dream of a brighter future for our families will be fulfilled. Sadly, after several years, our dreams were shattered because of the unjust systems of SPIL and its partner local and foreign agencies. We were not rightly paid, exacted illegal and exorbitant fees, breached the terms of our contracts, disregarded our health and well-being, and violated many of our rights.)

Aside from SPIL, the OFWs also sued their foreign agencies or brokers in Taiwan (Mengo Manpower Group, Champion Manpower Services, Pan Asia Human Resources) and recruitment agencies in the Philippines (JS Contractor Incorporated, MIP International Manpower Services, Grand Placement & General Services Corp, Global Gate Manpower Services Inc).

The OFWs explained that the local and foreign agencies charged them with P65,000 to P85,000 for placement fees while they are only allowed to collect an amount equivalent to one-month salary of the worker (around P30,000). They were also made to for their own air tickets while their contracts stipulate that it will be provided free. They also alleged that they were underpaid by 30-40%.

In their dialogues with the government officials, they urged the POEA and DOLE to immediately investigate on the case and impose sanctions against SPIL, local and foreign agencies and block them from “further victimizing other OFWs.”

Migrante International condemned Philippine government agencies for being complicit to the labor violations of SPIL. The group cited that the Manila Economic Cultural Office (MECO) in Taiwan is well aware of the OFWs’ complaints but acts as a “mouthpiece” of SPIL.

“The complicity of MECO is deplorable. But the exploitation of the workers and the wanton violation of their rights entirely stem from the lop sided labor-export deal that the Philippine government has entered into with SPIL and Taiwan authorities. This is testament to the state’s peddling of migrant workers as cheap labor for big businesses,” said Migrante in a statement.

Migrante and SPILiansUnite held the protest action at POEA and DOLE while the Philippines prepares as host to the 50th ASEAN Summit and 12th East Summit to highlight the bankruptcy of the government’s four-decade adherence to the “neoliberal” policy of labor exportation. ###