Death, industrial action and firings at LG Electronics in Poland

Life's not so good for LG workers
Life's not so good for LG workers

At least one worker fired after industrial action. Workers demand an end to forced overtime.

Submitted by akai on May 2, 2007

LG is one of the biggest and most important companies operating in Poland. The group owns a wide variety of investments, most notably its TV and LCD monitor/ screen production in Mlawa and Biskupice Podgórne (near Wroclaw) and its refrigerator and washing machine plant in Kobierzyce. The latter was opened thanks to a huge government / EU subsidy of hundreds of millions of euros; until 2016, LG Chem Poland, LG Electronics, LG Phillips and LG Innotek will receive free land, grants and tax exemptions. All these funds are being sunk into the development of Poland as a cheap labour manufacturing centre for the European Union.

Work conditions are generally tough at these factories. They can also be dangerous; there are many health and safety concerns about the production of televisions and LCDs, including the long-term health effects of exposure to toxics such as mercury or crystals.

On Thursday night / Friday there was a fatal accident in the Biskupice Podgorne plant – not the first. A few minutes after midnight, a 31-year-old worker tried to repair a machine and was killed. The same happened to a 49-year-old worker in December.

On Friday, the workers were angry. They were angry not only because of the death of their colleague but because they have been forced to work overtime for months. Typically, they work about 10 hours a day and take home between 1000 to 1600 zloties (250-400 euros) a month. They say that the conditions are so bad that workers often pass out and have to be sent to the hospital. Friday was the last day before the “long weekend”, when most people try to get a little vacation around the May Day holiday and the workers had promised themselves a few days early that they would finish punctually after 8 hours to mark the occasion. When the bosses demanded that they work two more hours overtime, about 150-200 workers just walked off the job. The workers were told they’d be fired and that they’d be banned from entering the factory.

Well, some of them didn’t just walk off the job – a few made some demands and decided to unionise. They demanded protective clothing, breaks during working hours and no more forced overtime. After this incident, a branch of Solidarity was set up and signed up 130 workers.

Daniel Goral, one of those workers who made demands, came to work on Monday and was fired. Apparently other workers are threatened with firings and may have gotten the sack today. Goral intends to fight his firing and filed suit today.

People who are interested in this case can help by sending protest letters to LG. Here is a sample, which of course may be modified as people see fit:

We are aware of labour problems at LG production sites in Poland, particularly in Biskupice Podgorne where, in contradiction of the Labour Code, people are forced to work overtime in poor working conditions. On April 27, workers left on time after eight hours of work only to be threatened. Daniel Goral was subsequently fired. We demand that he is reinstated. We support the workers’ demands for protective clothing, breaks and an 8-hour work day.

We do not believe that consumers should purchase products from firms which engage in unfair labour practices, therefore we will not be purchasing any of your products. Should such events continue in your factories, we would encourage a wide-scale boycott of your firm and protest action against it.

This protest can be sent to any LG office, but it should be sent particularly to the head office, the office in Poland or in your country.

Mail address, HQ:
LG Electronics Inc.
LG Twin Towers
20, Yeouido-dong, Yeongdeungpo-gu,
Seoul, Korea 150-721
CEO: Yong Nam

Fax to HQ of LG Holding Company (address as above):

Address and fax of the factory where the incidents occurred:
LG Electronics Wrocław Sp. z o.o.
Biskupice Podgórne
ul. LG Electronics 1-2
55-040 Kobierzyce
Fax – (48) 071 79 29 405
Address and fax of LG Poland HQ in Warsaw. The CEO is Young Lee.
Young Lee, LG Electronics
Domaniewska 41
02–672 Warszawa
Tel: (48) 022 48 17 100