A worker writhed on the ground after being assaulted by security workers at the Samsung Display factory in Vietnam. Source: YouTube capture
Thousands of workers milled around the gate of the construction site of a Samsung Display Co., Ltd factory in Vietnam, scuttling with private security forces and smashing security facilities, after security guards threw a worker to the ground, according to multiple press reports from South Korea and Vietnam.
While the information is sketchy as of this posting, the press reports commonly said as follow: On Feb. 28 afternoon, massive scuffles broke out between Vietnamese workers and South Korean security guards in Yen Phong, Bac Ninh, about one hour drive from Hanoi, after security guards knocked down a Vietnamese worker, rendering him unconscious.
Beating After Long Queue
The victim was among about 5,000-6,000 workers who had to wait in long queues to return to work after lunch as security guards were checking individual IDs due to fingerprint-reader malfunctions.
Soon, about 2,000 enraged workers rioted and pushed aside security guards. About 100 police officers were brought to the scene to de-escalate the situation. The police dispersed the crowd, after reinforcements from other districts, said Dient Dan Dan Tri Vietnam, a local news site.
A YouTube clip shows a worker writhing on the ground next to a fingerprint reader–embedded turnstile.
Casualties: Official vs. Unofficial
It will take some time for a complete picture of the strife to emerge from a powerful multinational operating in an incomplete democracy. Samsung C&T, the contractor for Samsung Display Co., Ltd. said there were no critical injuries, while remaining mum on property damage.
As of this posting, the Vietnamese government has yet to comment. While South Korea’s news agency Yonhap News said one Vietnamese worker was injured, a variety of Vietnamese news sites put the number of injuries at four to 11.
The riot is the latest manifestation of Samsung’s smoldering tensions with labor in Vietnam where it is now the largest foreign employer. In Jan. 2014, in a similar pattern local workers and South Korean security guards clashed at the construction site of a $3.2 billion Samsung Electronics plant in the Vietnamese province of Thai Nguyen, leaving 13 people injured.
Since 2008, Samsung Group has invested a total of $17.3 billion in Vietnam. Samsung Display, a spinoff of Samsung Electronics, alone is investing a total of $6.5 billion in the country. Currently, more than 100,000 Vietnamese workers assemble close to 50 percent of Samsung mobile phones and 100 percent of high-end Galaxy smartphones.
Apart from flashpoints like riots or violent clashes, little information is available about working conditions at Samsung factories in the Southeastern Asian country. However, the Galaxy 7 fiasco last year offered a sneak peek: Vietnamese workers had to assemble close to 7 million replacements for fire-prone Galaxy 7 handsets during the five days Harvest Moon holidays for the hasty recall that flopped.
SHARPS’s Sit-in Continues
Since Oct. 7, 2015, SHARPS and its supporters have been staging a sit-in at Samsung D’light, the company’s so-called global exhibition space in south Seoul, calling for the world’s largest technology company to: 1) compensate all victims of occupational disease transparently and sufficiently; and 2) make a sincere and full apology.
Correction, Feb. 28, 8:05pm EST: The following sentence is now removed from the post as it contained a link to a YouTube clip of Vietnamese workers rioting at a Samsung plant in Jan. 2014:
“Another clip shows the burning entrance and turnstiles, attesting to the intensity of the clash.”
Correction, March 1, 7:00am EST: References to fire are now removed from the following sentences as it has turned out that there were no attempts at arson during the strife;
“Thousands of workers milled around the gate of the construction site of a Samsung Display Co., Ltd factory in Vietnam, scuttling with private security forces and smashing or setting security facilities afire, after security guards threw a worker to the ground, according to multiple press reports from South Korea and Vietnam”; and
“Soon, about 2,000 enraged workers rioted, pushed aside security guards and set the turnstiles afire.”