China Labor Watch Advises Samsung on Underage Worker Investigation

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Samsung got into some hot water yesterday when a labor watch group released a scathing 31-page report on possible worker mistreatment in a China-based plant run by HEG, one of the manufacturer's part suppliers. Samsung has now said it plans to send a team of its own investigators to the facility on August 9th. And CLW has some advice for how Samsung can do that most effectively.

The orignal report, conducted by undercover whistle-blowers, blasted the tech maker for a number of offenses, including the physical punishment or verbal abuse of slow or mistake-prone workers and demanding employees work long 11-hour shifts up to six times a week. As nightmarish as that sounds, the report included one more reprehensible piece of information: that seven of HEG's floor workers were under the age of 16, below the legal working age for the area.

Samsung immediately released a statement announcing it would follow up on the allegations by conducting a new investigation into the claims and "take appropriate measures to correct any problems".

The China Labor Watch has some ideas to help with that. In an email follow-up shared today, reps from the watchdog group advised Samsung investigators on how the inspection should be conducted, especially when it comes to uncovering the truth about possible underage workers.

The initial report stated undercover researchers met with seven underage factory employees, but HEG staff responded that only three or four young workers are on staff. According to the CLW's sources, however, at least five of those employees are still working. 

To find out what's really happening, the CLW advises Samsung to "carry out in-depth interviews and thorough investigations, such as examining the number of the working positions in the factory to see if there is a sudden shortage of workers" and standing in the factory's entry point to better spot and ID young employees as they file in for work. In that mode of inquiry, the CLW also encourages Samsung to thoroughly check and verify each employee's documentation throughout the investigation, for example, during interviews, etc..

The CLW also advises investigators to be on the look out for forged documentation. "We know all the workers must have IDs, but the authenticity shall be seriously doubted."

In any event, the watch group hopes Samsung will share the results of the investigation, including copies of any IDs. Doing so, would allow the CLW to conduct follow-up investigations to ensure those children aren't punished by or subject to reprisals from the factory's managers.

That assumes that these potentially underage employees are somehow allowed to return to the factory or that they live near it. The CLW hopes that won't be the case. In fact, the watch group believes the "inspection could be effective" and wants Samsung to "help those children go back to school, away from the exploitations of the factory."

Stay tuned for more details.



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  • hhg Says:

    No child labor found in Samsung supplier: officials
    13:33, August 10, 2012

    Authorities in South China’s Guangdong Province said Thursday they found no labor law violations in a Chinese Samsung supplier that had previously been accused of using child labor.

    A statement on a local official website said the city of Huizhou launched an investigation after China Labor Watch alleged that the city’s HEG Electronics Co. had employed children younger than 16.

    The firm supplies phones and other digital products to several companies, including South Korean electronics giant Samsung Electronics Co.

    The statement said that of the seven workers named by the New York-based labor rights group, two were adults and five were aged between 16 and 18 — all above China’s legal working age of 16.

    The statement also said the company of 3,100 employees was not found to have imposed excessive work hours or to have withheld workers’ wages.

    China Labor Watch released a report on Tuesday accusing the Chinese firm of forcing child laborers to work 11 to 13 hours a day while paying them only 70 percent of the wages received by formal employees.

    Samsung said Thursday that it would send a team of investigators to the factory, adding that two previous checks found no irregularities in the factory’s working conditions.

    (People's daily)

  • Luke Says:

    It's really sad to see this going on, you would think in our modern age we would be doing better than this as humans.

  • Russell Kompinski Says:

    "Apple suing Samsung for stealing Business Model!" This is a serious matter; however, it's quite a sad and funny coincidence that Apple too has a human's rights case on their hands, and they're suing samsung for copying tablets and phones. It seems they have a lot more in common than their gadgets

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