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Samsung supplier accused of exploiting child labor

updated 03:10 am EDT, Wed August 8, 2012

Supplier manufactures phones, MP3 players for Korean company

According to watchdog agency China Labor Watch, a HEG Electronics-owned factory that assembles products for Samsung Electronics has been hiring underage workers, and violating Chinese labor laws. During the investigation, the auditor discovered seven underage workers, and believed that many more illegal workers remained undiscovered by the spot audit. The factory assembles mobile phones, stereo equipment, and MP3 players for Samsung.

The report detailed the increased employment of "student laborers" during the summer and winter vacations, and can reach up to 80 percent of the labor force in the factory. During non-vacation times, the student workforce is 60 percent. Child workers deal with the same conditions as adults, but are paid 70 percent of the adult wage.

China Labor Watch reports that "any carelessness, such as slow movements, misoperation, or late completion of team leaders' orders could provoke the shouting of team leaders at anytime. Every day, employees in the workshops were punished by standing all day long, writing self-criticism, or getting fined." In addition, the agency found that the company has neither a health clinic nor first-aid kits in dorms or the factory floor. Accidental work injuries are treated by supervisors. The report claims that the factory "essentially offers no medical protection measures" to its workers.

HEG is accused of accumulating the child-labor pool through poor internal supervision and substandard ID review. Local schools were found to be supplying workers to the factory, and providing them with forged identification claiming legal work age. Children in China often feel obligated to work to help support their families, particularly in rural areas where poverty is acute.

Samsung denies the charges, telling ZDNet Asia "Samsung Electronics has conducted two separate on-site inspections on HEG's working conditions this year but found no irregularities on those occasions. Given the report, we will conduct another field survey at the earliest possible time to ensure our previous inspections have been based on full information and to take appropriate measures to correct any problems that may surface."

In the wake of a similar report, little has changed at Foxconn since it and Apple agreed to make changes to working conditions, says Student & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SSACM). The activist group recently visited several Foxconn factories and interviewed 170 workers, and claims that rights violations "remain the norm," involving high production targets, inhumane treatment, and evidence of broad salary cuts. SSACM's claims have not been independently verified.


by MacNN Staff



  1. hayesk

    Professional Poster

    Joined: 09-17-99

    So are we going to see a NY Times story on this?

    Is Mike Daisey going to make a fake one-man play about this?

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 08-06-01

    @haysek, you can't have it both ways. You either want Apple to be really successful, which in turn makes them high on a list, subject to scrutiny, press, and publicity; or you want them people to stop paying any attention to them, which requires they go back to their status in the late 90s.

    Any company that rises to a position like Apple has is going to face far more scrutiny than some two-bit company. Especially in the US, since Apple is a US company and, in this example, Samsung is not.

    But, I know, you're just one of those who feels that Apple can get no break in the world. They're always being knocked down, dismissed, picked on. The pip-squeak kid in the fourth grade that the bigger kids always pick on.

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 08-06-01

    What the hell? Come on kids! Where's the "Yep, just goes to show you the lengths Samsung will go to in order to copy Apple!" comments?

  1. Charles Martin

    MacNN Editor

    Joined: 08-04-01

    Let the record show that Trolltudo refers to Samsung as a "two-bit company" when it suits his purposes.

    He's right that Apple will be subject to more scrutiny (and criticism) as the largest, most successful and most popular electronics and PC maker in the world.

    He's wrong, obviously, that Samsung -- the largest maker of cell phones and thus one of the largest exploiters of Chinese labour -- should't be subject to exactly the same scrutiny. Android, in addition to being stolen, is every bit as "tainted" as Trolltudo imagines (without facts to back him up) Apple to be.

    As for Mike Daisey, I think we all knew he wasn't telling the whole (or true) story from the get-go. Trolltudo is equally cherry-picking as per usual.

    My prediction is that this is not the last substantive electronics maker we're going to hear stories about viz. Chinese labor practices.

    Let's see if Samsung copies Apple on joining the FLA and otherwise getting serious about its problem.

  1. DiabloConQueso

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 06-11-08

    Samsung Electronics, at one point in time, and possibly still today, is the largest technology company in the world.

    Even in the USA, it could hardly be considered a "two-bit" company -- the logic that since they're not headquartered in the USA makes them less important or less sizable or less impactful is simply hogwash. Ask 100 people with flat-screen TVs which model they have, and I'd be willing to bet that the majority are Samsung.

    Samsung is almost a household name in the USA because of their cell phones and TVs.

  1. blahblahbber


    Joined: 02-01-05

    Keepin it real folks, world trade is just keepin it real.

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