Early last month, the HEG Electronics facility in Huizhou, China, which manufactures products for Samsung, Motorola, and others, was accused by China Labor Watch of using child labor. In response to the accusations, Samsung sent its own auditors to the factory, who didn't identify any underage workers in a report published today. The audit did uncover workers aged 16-17, but these were apparently student workers whose presence was legal. Samsung says its checks were hampered by an extremely high staff turnover rate of around 30 percent per month, but its investigators were able to audit HR records, perform face-to-face ID checks and one-on-one interviews with the younger workers.
It wasn't all rosy for HEG, however. The audit found many problems at the Huizhou factory, including poor management, a system of fines for lateness and absence, overtime beyond local regulations, and inadequate health and safety measures, including failure to provide employees with access to adequate medical care — it's not difficult to see why 30 percent of HEG's staff leave per month. Samsung says it "formally notified" HEG that it must improve its working conditions to comply with labor laws and its own labor and employment policies. It also claims to have issued an ultimatum to the manufacturer that, if HEG is found to be employing underage staff, any contracts between the companies will be "immediately severed."
Samsung has pledged to look into all of its Chinese partners
A team of around 100 Samsung employees will now complete on-site inspections for all of its 105 suppliers in China that solely produce products for Samsung by the end of September, before inspecting, via documentation only, a further 144 suppliers that produce products for Samsung and other companies by the end of the year. After this year's checks, it will contract the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC) to carry out regular on-site inspections of all its Chinese suppliers.