Samsung Demands Improvements At Chinese Factory
Samsung’s audit at HEG Electronics found no under-age workers, but discovered other dangerous practices,
Samsung has demanded that one of its suppliers in China improve working conditions after an audit uncovered potentially dangerous working conditions. No child workers were found, but a child labour pressure group claims there has been a cover up
Samsung’s audit followed allegations last month by Child Labour Watch (CLW) that seven children under the age of 16 had been found working at the HEG Electronics facility in Huizhou, southern China, which assembles mobile phones and DVD players for Samsung. The move follows actions by Apple in response to criticism of conditions amongst those making iPads and iPhones
No under-age workers
While Samsung said its audit had found no under-age workers on the site, it discovered other problems, such as excessive overtime and a lack of access to medical treatment.
“Samsung has demanded that HEG immediately improve its working conditions… If HEG fails to meet Samsung’s zero-tolerance policy on child labour, the contract will be immediately severed,” Samsung said in a statement.
Samsung said it will follow up the audit of HEG with inspections of another 249 firms which make products for the company. By the end of September Samsung will conduct audits directly into the 105 companies in China that make products solely for Samsung, and by the end of the year will review the documentation of another 144 companies that supply Samsung as well as other firms.
“If supplier companies are found to be in violation of our policies and corrective actions not taken, Samsung will terminate its contract with those supplier companies,” Samsung said.
Samsung said its investigators had found workers under the age of 18 on the site of HEG, but said these workers are aged over 16 and are student workers or interns whose presence is legal.
Samsung said its team of 30 auditors conducted face-to-face identity checks, reviewed human resources documents and interviewed workers individually from 9 August to 31 August.
CLW responded that Samsung’s auditing system is inadequate. The group said CLW said HEG appeared to have transferred child workers away from the plant in question before Samsung’s auditors arrived, according to a report by Bloomberg. CLW’s team saw young workers taken into cars and driven away, according to the report.
In its original 31-page report, CLW said it carried out three investigations between the months of June and July 2012. During this time, the investigators found seven children working in the same department, one of them just 14 years old.
Although CLW didn’t get access to all of the facilities, the ease with which they found proof of child labour suggested it was common practice throughout the factory. The non-profit organisation estimated that the overall number of children employed by HEG might be between 50 and 100.
According to CLW, the children are working under the same harsh conditions as adult workers, but are paid only 70 percent of the wages. There is discrimination based on sex, age and individuality during the hiring process, and working weeks involve 11 hours per day, six days a week.
“Based on the results of this CLW investigation of Samsung’s supplier factory, it can be determined that working conditions at HEG are well below those general conditions in Apple’s supplier factories,” read the report. Samsung subcontractors have their employees working 66 hours a week compared to Foxconn’s 60, and pay just half the wages.
The work practices at Chinese high-technology assembly plants have come under scrutiny since 2010, when several workers committed suicide in reaction to conditions at Apple supplier Foxconn Technology Group. In May 2012 Apple and Foxconn reached an agreement to improve the conditions for the 1.2 million workers who assemble iPhones and iPads, but this was followed by another suicide in June.
CLW said in a recent report that working conditions at many Apple suppliers are “significantly more dire” than those at Foxconn.
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