Samsung Child Labor Accusations Come to Light

    August 8, 2012

As Samsung has grown into a major competitive force in the smartphone market, the company has faced greater scrutiny of their products. Now, Samsung is also facing greater scrutiny on their manufacturing operations, something Apple has had to deal with for years now.

China Labor Watch, a New York-based organization that defends the human rights of Chinese workers, this week published an investigative report on an HEG Electronics factory located in Huizhou, China. HEG is a Samsung supplier for components found in Samsung products. The report claims that several children were found working at the HEG factory.

Members of China Labor Watch worked jobs at the HEG factory during June and July of this year. Their report claims that seven different children under the age of 16 were found working in the department where the members were stationed. China Labor Watch estimates that 50 to 100 children could be working at the factory, out of 2,000 total workers. It also claims that these children are making only 70% of the wages normal employees at the factory receive.

According to the China Labor Watch report, younger student workers make up a majority of the employees at the factory during summer and winter periods. It is claimed that underage workers are smuggled in using false identification on the pretext of being student workers. China Labor Watch claims that underage workers, when discovered, were moved to rented dormitories away from the factory, but not fired.

To Samsung’s credit, the company has immediately responded to the accusations. It released a statement today promising to send a team of inspectors to the factory by August 9. The full statement from The Verge:

“Samsung Electronics has conducted two separate on-site inspections on HEG’s working conditions this year but found no irregularities on those occasions.

A team of inspectors consisting of Samsung personnel from Korea headquarters will be dispatched to Huizhou, China on August 9, and it will immediately launch an investigation and take appropriate measures to correct any problems that may surface.

Samsung Electronics is a company held to the highest standards of working conditions and we try to maintain that at our facilities and the facilities of partner companies around the world.”

If these accusations are true, Samsung will need to review much of its manufacturing operations in China for human rights abuses. The China Labor Watch report states that companies such as Samsung require “social responsibility audits” for their suppliers, but that such processes are susceptible to bribery and other types of corruption. The report singles out Samsung’s auditing company, Intertek, as “not trustworthy.”