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Samsung child labor allegations contradict recent audit

Samsung child labor allegations contradict recent audit


China Labor Watch uncovers a practice of hiring underage workers during periods of peak demand

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The 2014 edition of Samsung's annual Sustainability Report was issued a few days ago and enumerated a long list of improper employment practices among the Korean company's Chinese suppliers. What it did not find, however, were any instances of child labor, giving the 100 suppliers that were audited in China a clean bill of health at least on that metric. Contradicting those Samsung inspections is a report today form China Labor Watch (CLW) that alleges multiple instances of child labor at the Shinyang Electronics factory in Dongguan. CLW is scathing in its dismissal of Samsung's social responsibility reports as mere advertisements that "don't have any real value for the workers."

Li Qiang, executive director at CLW, goes on to describe Samsung's monitoring systems as ineffectual, which would indeed be correct if these present allegations prove to be accurate. "In just one Samsung supplier factory," states the report, "CLW has uncovered several children employed without labor contracts, working 11 hours per day and only being paid for 10 of those hours." In response, Samsung has said that it will urgently investigate the allegations and will take appropriate actions where necessary. The company notes that 90 percent of its parts are produced at its own manufacturing plants where it "can directly provide world-class working conditions."

A separate report from Guangzhou Daily a few days earlier also found underage workers at another factory in Dongguan, underlining how widespread the practice is. Fake identification documents are said to be routinely used and the director of the latter factory is quoted as saying his company is a victim too, having been fooled into employing illegal workers. That doesn't excuse the allegations of broader violations like unpaid overtime and a lack of social insurance, but it does illustrate the scale of the task faced by Samsung and all other electronics vendors who outsource their manufacturing to China.