Reports

October, 20 2008 |  Download PDF |  Share

The Dark Side of Sirius Satellite Radio

Abusive Sweatshop Conditions at the Kiryung Electronics Factory in South Korea

Women making Sirius Satellite Radios are stripped of their rights, forced to work grueling hours for below-subsistence wages, and attacked and beaten when they ask for their legal rights.

Howard Stern lampooned Kathie Lee Gifford over the exploitation of child workers in Honduras who sewed her clothing line.  Does Howard Stern now have the independence to challenge Sirius Satellite Radio for exploitation of young women in Asia who make Sirius’s satellite radios?

Will Martha Stewart and Eminem speak out against the exploitation and violation of women’s rights?


SUMMARY

At the Kiryung Electronics Factory in South Korea, young women assembling Sirius Satellite Radios are stripped of their rights and forced to work grueling hours for below-subsistence wages.  When the women sought their legal rights, they were attacked and beaten.

  • Over 250 production line workers at the Kiryung Electronics factory have no rights and are held under conditions of constant fear.
  • Married women are limited to just three-month contracts so they can be fired if they become pregnant.
  • Workers can be fired for using the bathroom, requesting to leave “early” when the regular shift ends at 5:00 p.m., for arriving a few minutes late, for asking for a sick day, or being unable to work on a weekend or national holidays.
  • Forced to work 13 to 14-hour shifts, six or seven days a week, sometimes going for up to three months without a single day off.  There are also grueling all-night 24-hour shifts two or three times a month.  After toiling all night, workers must still report for their next shift at 8:00 a.m. the following morning, leaving them working a 38-hour shift.  Workers report toiling 100 to 120 hours of overtime a month.
  • Workers making Sirius Satellite radios earn just $145 a week, despite the fact that the cost of living in Seoul is just as high, if not higher, than in New York City.  Paid below-subsistence wages, workers and their families must subsist on rice and kimchee (pickled cabbage).
  • The work pace is so grueling that workers cannot even raise their heads, talk or use the bathroom.  The women must learn to “hold their bladder,” but report that they sometimes “leak.”
  • In the face of discrimination against pregnant women, the lack of rights, grueling hours and below-subsistence pay, the workers organized a union in July 2005.  Management immediately threatened to fire the women, who then occupied the plant staging a sit-down strike.  The sit-down lasted 55 days before the workers were driven from the factory by riot police.
  • Kiryung management informed the workers that at the insistence of Sirius Satellite Radio, production of the radios would be relocated to a low wage factory in China.
  • Hired goons also attacked the strikers, stomping, kicking and beating the women.
  • For 1,160 days, the women have continued their strike, setting up a sit-in and small tent shelter in front of the main gate of the factory.  Over 1,000 supporters joined a one-day hunger strike to support the workers.  The head of the local union at the Kiryung factory went on a hunger strike for 94 days before being hospitalized in mid-September 2008.
  • The struggle for justice continues, as a delegation of striking workers travels to the U.S. on October 15 to confront management at Sirius Satellite Radio and to seek the support of the American people in their just struggle.

For the full report, please download the PDF file