Policy & Law
China Labor Watch has accused Samsung supplier HTNS Shenzhen of hiring underage workers, forcing employees to work overtime, and other labor violations, even after Samsung said that an audit did not turn up any evidence of child labor at its suppliers' factories. In a report, CLW said that it found three workers under the age of 16, one of whom had been working at the factory since before the audit took place. By the time CLW had notified Samsung of the workers, two of them were no longer at HTNS, making it impossible to speak to them.
Besides the claim of underage workers, the report highlights employees being required to work up to 14 or 15 hours a day in poorly ventilated facilities. Plans for worker injuries and potential fires are allegedly lacking, with no infirmary or medical kit and a single fire extinguisher for the 1,100-person facility. It also mentions the usual spread of petty and arcane fines, with workers docked wages for leaving dorm lights on or "taking too much rice and failing to finish it." Some of these issues have been noted by Samsung itself, which promised to improve them after its November report.
"The discovery of these child workers... provides evidence for the ineffectiveness of Samsung’s audit system."
While massive electronics supplier Foxconn has drawn the bulk of criticism over shoddy labor practices, the HTNS report is part of a months-long battle over Samsung's suppliers. In August, CLW alleged that HEG, a different supplier, employed between 50 and 100 underage workers, leading to an audit of all Samsung partners in China. Neither Samsung's HEG audit nor those of its other suppliers apparently revealed any underage workers, though they did uncover plenty of other violations. This new report, CLW says, "provides evidence for the ineffectiveness of Samsung’s audit system."
We're not sure exactly when CLW's inspection took place, but it seems to have been after Samsung's audit, which was held in September. Not too much time has gone by since then, which means that some of these issues may be fixed in the future. However, this report still casts doubt on both the auditing process and the changes that were promised. Samsung has not yet commented on the allegations.
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