Taipei, March 11 (CNA) Several labor rights groups on Friday accused Taiwan's leading smartphone maker HTC of overworking its engineers and factory workers in order to make a profit and neglecting to address the issue.
A dozen protestors, mostly in their 20s, turned up at HTC's flagship store in Taipei, holding placards that read "high-tech bullying" and "HTC: sweatshop" and chanting slogans.
Two students lay on the ground, covering their bodies with red paint and animal organs, in a symbolic demonstration of employees who died of work exhaustion.
Chiang Yi-han, from High-Tech Cold-Blooded Youngs, which organized the protest, told reporters that HTC has failed to address the issue of overwork when many of its engineers and factory workers work 12 hours on a daily basis to make a fortune for the company's boss.
HTC's chairwoman, Cher Wang, is now the richest person in Taiwan, according to Forbes magazine's billionaires list published Thursday.
Chiang specifically referred to a 30-year-old HTC engineer who died in his dormitory a day after working until 3 a.m. on Feb. 21.
"It is our humblest wish that when consumers hold a fancy HTC touch-screen phone, they would think more about how the phone is made and how the health, or even the life, of an HTC employee might have been sacrificed," Chiang said.
HTC responded after the protest that it "will make sure its employees are respected and that it would carry out its corporate social responsibility."
As part of the government's efforts to prevent death from overwork, the Council of Labor of Affairs (CLA) announced Thursday that special clinics have been created at nine major hospitals around Taiwan to diagnose cases of employees suffering health problems as a result of overwork.
The CLA said Friday that three clinics have started operations, while six others will begin offering the service next week. (By Hermia Lin) ENDITEM/ly