Taipei, Taiwan (PRWEB) June 13, 2004
Five members of the Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical and Energy Workers International Union (PACE) announced that they will begin their hunger strike to protest the three-year lockout of PACE members at the Continental Carbon plant in Ponca City, Okla. Continental Carbon is a subsidiary of Taiwan Cement Corporation and China Synthetic Rubber Company, two companies controlled by the Koos Group of Taiwan.
The three-year lockout in Oklahoma is the longest lockout in U.S. history by a foreign corporation.
The hunger strike will commence immediately after Taiwan CementÂs shareholder meeting that will take place on June 11, 2004 in Tapei, Taiwan.
Three locked-out workers and two PACE officials will participate in the hunger strike.
The Asian secretary for the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, and Mine and General WorkersÂ Unions, whose affiliates have over 20 million union members, will join the hunger strike next week.
The hunger strike was called after a meeting of PACE and the Taiwan Confederation of Trade Unions (TUTU) with the parent companies of Continental Carbon failed to gain a genuine commitment from the companies and the Koos Group to negotiate an end to the lockout.
The Koos Group and the parent companies have threatened PACE and its allies in a communication sent on June 9 to the news media and government officials in Taiwan. The communication stated, ÂWe have asked the Taiwan government and law enforcement agencies to use all available means to protect the interests of our companies.Â
Representatives of PACE and the TCTU met with labor and foreign ministry officials to explain how the lockout is damaging the reputation of Taiwan throughout the U.S. There have been over 100 negative newspaper, trade journal, TV and radio reports since the start ot the lockout, which began in May 2001. PACE and the TCTU have also informed Taiwanese union representatives, who sit on pension and health funds that are invested in the parent companies, about huge losses incurred by Continental Carbon that can be directly attributed to the lockout.
Continental Carbon has lost significant business, including its largest customer, and is subject to major fines and lawsuits over pollution problems. PACE believes that most of Continental CarbonÂs poor performance can be attributed to the replacement of skilled workers by a low-cost itinerant work force in Oklahoma.
Locked-out workers and TCTU representatives will be attending the June 11 shareholders meeting of Taiwan Cement to expose how the lockout is impacting shareholders. Also attending the shareholders meeting will be the director of the Office of Environmental Management for the Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma, whose members have experienced the worst effects of Continental CarbonÂs pollution.
PACE has 275,000 union members, mainly in the paper, chemical, oil, automotive parts, industrial materials, and grain processing industries in the U.S. and Canada. It is headquartered in Nashville, Tenn. The Ponca Tribe has over 2,500 members with 1,750 living in the Ponca City area. For further information on Continental CarbonÂs labor and environmental problems, see http://www.fightbackonline.org.
Joe Drexler, Director of Special Projects Â Telephone: 011.886.02.563.1111
Lynne Baker, Associate Director of Communications: (615) 831-6782