Samsung can never see my face: story of a secret trade unionist


Samsung can never see my face: the story of a secret trade union organiser infiltrated in Samsung's plants, with a 'no union' policy Youtube under a Creative Commons Licence

Samsung has a reputation for modern technology, but also a history of medieval conditions for its estimated 1.5 million workers. An anonymous worker risks all to organize.

I can't tell you who I am, where I live, or what I look like.

If Samsung found out, I could lose my job. The future of my family – the livelihood of my wife, son, and daughter – would be at risk.

But here's what I can say: I’m a secret trade union organizer. I work for Samsung, and can never be in the picture.

Why the secret? Because Samsung's ‘no-union’ policy bans millions of people like me who work for Samsung or its suppliers from openly organizing for a better future.

And unfortunately my story is all too common: the Asia Monitor Resource Centre reports that Samsung's ‘no-union’ policy affects the entire Asian electronics industry – that's because the company uses its power and leverage to intervene with its suppliers. From the top of its supply chain down, Samsung prohibits the formation of unions by threatening to cancel contracts wherever workers like me organize.

But I organise anyway. Despite the risk, I carry on fighting for the right to a decent place to work, a better life, a better future, for my family.

RELATED: Taking matters in their own hands: what happens when official trade unions are working for the state, not for the workers

A family just like yours: we eat, we pray, we argue, we play. We cherish those moments that bring us together. But it's all in danger unless we end Samsung's ‘no union’ policy.

Will you join me? Help me expose Samsung's secret. Share my story, because I can't do it without your help.

What’s hot and what’s not at Paris #COP21

COP21 wordle

Ron Mader under a Creative Commons Licence

We missed you.


Local French organizers

The stress and repression they’ve been facing has been unbelievable. All credit to them for keeping it together and coming through. Please, please take some holidays.

Inflatable objects

Disobedient and desirable, and activist de rigueur this year.


From Redlines to the Louvre/Total action, a recurring motif.

‘It Takes Roots’ delegation

Serving frontline fierceness inside and outside the COP. Slick production values for some very real people.

Red Lipstick

Red lines, red lips, ready to take on the world.

Naomi Klein’s hair

So much bounce and lustre. We’d love to know the secret of her product.

Naomi at the Red Lines action COP21, Paris

Posted by Naomi Klein on Saturday, December 12, 2015


Live video streaming from your prison cell. Totally illegal in France. Totally badass from these Art Not Oil activists who got arrested after the Louvre action.

Activists arrested in the Louvre secretly sent this message fr...

Ten performers were arrested today at the Louvre for challenging its sponsorship by oil companies Total and Eni. But they managed to smuggle a phone into their cell to get this message out.Performance by End oil-sponsorship of the arts, BP or not BP?, G.U.L.F. Liberate Tate, Not An Alternative Occupy Museums, Platform London, Science Unstained, Shell Out Sounds, No Tar Sands, Stopp oljesponsing av norsk kulturliv, The Natural History Museum alongside other artists and activists from around the world. Film supported by and Real Media.

Posted by New Internationalist Magazine on Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Breakdancers at the ZAC (climate convergence space)

Effortlessly demonstrating to the climate movement that it needs to seriously up its game when it comes to busting some moves.

1.5 degrees

Thank god this is getting talked about again.

Kayaktivists on the Seine

It’s hard to pick just one moment from all the amazing Indigenous-led actions that took place in Paris. This was one of them.

Vandana Shiva rocking out with Flea at Pathway to Paris

Looking forward to hearing some of their studio material together.

The Art Space at Jardin de Alice

For those seeking solace from the soullessness of Le Bourget, this was a very welcoming space. Great food and all your action materials to hand.

German activists

They nearly didn't come, then changed their minds, got stuck in and were indispensable.


Avaaz triumphalism

Our stomachs were steeled in advance, but the inevitable ‘We did it!’ email (obviously written weeks beforehand) was quite something to behold. Hard to choose just one ‘not hot’ thing for Avaaz, but this is a worthy winner. You are a mailing list, not a movement.

1.5 degrees

Cynically signing up to 1.5, with no intention of delivering.

Pushy climate vegans

Trying to tell Via Campesina and Indigenous peoples what to eat and having some pretty dodgy stats on animal emissions.

French police

Cops are never hot obvs. But way not feeling the French ones. And especially not their shoulder pads.

Man buns

Not on Thom Yorke. Not on anyone. No.

The inevitable manarchist intervention in any public discussion

Dude, we get it. You’re super-radical and heavily invested in your political identity. Now please sit down and be quiet.

Leaving all the good stuff out of the agreement

Indigenous rights, human rights, shipping and aviation, pretty much anything binding...

Green Warriors of Norway

In biker jackets handing out free condoms saying ‘over-population is the biggest climate issue’. Not just neo-Malthusian, comes across a bit neo-fascist.

Guilty until proven innocent

On 26 March more than 200 people were arrested in London following the protests against public spending cuts. Of those arrested, 145 were charged with varying offences relating to the black bloc action, Trafalgar Square and the UK Uncut Fortnum & Mason occupation. The experiences in custody of those arrested are disturbing to say the least, and the story doesn’t end after 24 hours in a small, cold, dirty cell. All 145 people charged were eventually released and bailed to return either to a police station or to court, but their extrajudicial punishment has started early. When released from a police station on bail you do not pay like you would in the US, but there are conditions set on that bail. These conditions often come down to the interpretation by the custody officer processing each defendant and frequently remove the right to protest and significantly breach human rights.

Police up close

For those arrested at Fortnum & Mason, the bail conditions were designed to prevent them attending forthcoming protests; they were deemed to be trouble-makers, despite being described by Chief Inspector Clare Clark as ‘nonviolent’ and ‘sensible’ and their detention and arrest being questioned by a Chief Superintendent outside. Most of them are not allowed to enter large areas of London, including ‘travelling through on public transport’ for specific dates (i.e. 29 April and 1 May), or for a period of time covering those dates, or, in the most extreme circumstances, from their point of release until their court date, a period of more than a month. This constitutes a significant breach of their right to freedom of movement and right to peaceful protest (freedom of expression). The justification for people being banned from entering the centre of London varies from the outright political ‘so as not to get involved with planned future protest’ to the vague ‘so as not to interfere with/obstruct justice’, to the baffling ‘to prevent interference with ongoing investigation’. The order to charge the protesters was made by Scotland Yard, as were the orders to seize clothing, mobile phones and impose these sorts of bail conditions. The variation in treatment and conditions demonstrates the influence over what is used as extrajudicial punishment that comes down to the custody officer at each police station.

Protesting against the spending cuts

Bail in the UK is governed under the Bail Act 1976, under which provisions are made that bail may be granted to a person arrested for an offence and conditions imposed under s.3A (5):

(5) Where a constable grants bail to a person no conditions shall be imposed under subsections (4), (5), (6) or (7) of section 3 of this Act unless it appears to the constable that it is necessary to do so for the purpose of preventing that person from –
(a) failing to surrender to custody, or
(b) committing an offence while on bail, or
(c) interfering with witnesses or otherwise obstructing the course of justice, whether in relation to himself or any other person.

The UK police have been using bail conditions as a means of extrajudicial punishment and as a method to prevent protest for decades; this is certainly not the first time it has happened to me. In 2007, after abseiling from Westminster Bridge to hang a Free Tibet banner, I, along with a number of others, was banned from attending the Olympic Torch Relay protests. Members of the climate change movement are only too aware of the way in which bail conditions are used as a political statement and punishment as much as to prevent further offences or interference with investigations – often more so. Before the Camp for Climate Action at Heathrow, dozens of people were arrested and given bail conditions that prevented them from attending the camp. Following the Kingsnorth Climate Camp in 2009, one protester was arrested on suspicion of assaulting a police officer. Their bail conditions seemed unreasonably strict, given the nature of the arrest. They were given a very restrictive curfew and an ankle tag, and bailed to return in a few months. When the bail date drew nearer an application was made and granted to extend the bail period pending ‘further investigation’. This continued for a year and a half. This is tantamount to extrajudicial sentencing to 18 months’ house arrest without trial, without representation and on suspicion of an offence as yet not proven. This is not an exceptional case; the climate movement is littered with stories such as this.

Protest against the spending cuts

The problem with these sorts of cases comes down to this: despite their talk of defending the right to peaceful protest, the police believe protests are inherently illegal and need policing. Therefore, anyone arrested in conjunction with a protest is guilty and that is that. The Territorial Support Group exists to police protests or ‘public order situations’. They know that the charges brought against protesters often don’t stand up in a court, so they impose restrictive and oppressive bail conditions as punishment, like a playground bully giving his victim a sly kick in the ribs before fleeing the teacher to escape punishment.

It is true to suggest that in some cases there may be a reason to prevent a person interfering with an investigation or fleeing the country. If, however, we truly believe in the right to peaceful protest and in the presumption of innocence, then the use of bail conditions as extrajudicial punishment, and to prevent a person exercising their right to peaceful protest, has no place in our legal system or our society.

All photos by Matthew Wilkinson under a CC Licence.

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