Samsung tells suppliers in China that they have two years to stop illegal work practices

Samsung tells suppliers in China that they have two years to stop illegal work practices
An audit that Samsung conducted on 65,000 employees in China, covering 105 of the suppliers it uses in the country, revealed some illegal practices that the suppliers were doing, including the use of excessive overtime. This followed complaints made in August by labor rights group China Labor Watch that Samsung suppliers were hiring children and that working conditions were "inhumane".  In September, some Samsung suppliers were said to have used illegal discriminatory hiring practices.

Samsung did face-to-face checks on employees under 18 and found no children working at the factories. What the Korean based manufacturer found was employees who worked overtime beyond legal limits and workers who were fined for being absent or tardy. The tech titan has been auditing suppliers in China over the last four weeks and is continuing to audit another 144 of its suppliers in the country. Samsung says its suppliers must meet local laws as well as the Samsung Supplier Code of Conduct.

In August, China Labor Watch said an investigation during June and July found that employees under the age of 16 were working alongside its investigators at a HEG Electronics (Huizhou) factory. Samsung uses parts made at the plant for its mobile handsets among other products. China Labor Watch claims that 50 to 100 workers at the factory were children with the youngest being 14, getting paid just 70% of adult wages. According to China Labor Watch, "...these child workers were often required to carry-out dangerous tasks that resulted in injury." Contract manufacturer Foxconn, used by Apple to assemble its mobile devices, admitted last month that it hired a number of children through a "school program." Foxconn workers for years have complained about conditions at the factories with some allegedly committing suicide.

In September, Samsung promised to investigate the practice of using child labor although hiring children seems to be a seasonal issue seen when school is out in the summer from early July to late August. Samsung said that the hiring practices of its suppliers must be changed and any supplier found to employ children in its labor force will lose Samsung's business. Additionally, Samsung said that reducing overtime hours is a top goal for the company, with overtime beyond legal limits coming to an end by 2014. Longer-term measures related to employees hours will be developed at the end of this year.

Samsung says it continues its "zero-tolerance" policy on child labor and asks its suppliers to purchase electronic devices that can help its suppliers detect phony IDs. Additionally, Samsung wants suppliers to cap temporary workers at 30% of full time workers. By the end of the year, Samsung wants its suppliers to provide safety training and equipment, train managers on sexual harassment and physical and verbal abuse and eliminate the fines/punishment system among other things.

source: Samsung, China Labor Watch via Guardian

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