Samsung has failed to identify "any instance of child labor" at its suppliers' factories after finishing its audit of around 105 suppliers that produce components purely for Samsung products. The chaebol undertook the audit in response to a China Labor Watch report that made accusations of poor working conditions and child labor. Although the company's own auditors found no child labor, they confirmed the reports of poor working conditions. Samsung says it's taking steps to improve the situation as well as installing additional safeguards to prevent underage workers being employed.
It's difficult to ascertain exactly where the suppliers were going wrong, with Samsung only mentioning illegally excessive overtime, labor contract infractions, and employees being fined for lateness or absences. However, Samsung's commitment to improve the malpractices gives a clue as to the full extent of the situation:
- Hiring discrimination will "continue to be prohibited"
- The fines system has been abolished
- Adequate safety equipment and training must be provided
- First aid kits must be installed across dorms and factories
- "Additional training for managers on sexual harassment and physical and verbal abuse" is recommended
In addition to the above steps, Samsung says it will develop a "longer term" plan to resolve overtime issues, including demanding that temporary employees work no more than 30 percent of full-time employees' hours. As announced during its audit of the HEG Electronics factory accused of hiring underage employees, Samsung will now finish its audit with a "documentation only" check of factories that produce products for multiple companies by the end of the year. It adds that from 2013 it will "ensure the independence of audits" by hiring third-party auditors to monitor working conditions at its suppliers.