Samsung vows to ditch suppliers that exploit child labour

With electronics manufacturers coming under increasing pressure to tackle labour rights violations at offshore suppliers, Samsung insists it will cut off any companies found to be employing underage workers.

The firm is continuing to investigate conditions at its supply factories in China, after a US-based NGO claimed HEG Electronics, which makes products for Motorola and LG as well as Samsung, had a number of under-16s among its workforce. The findings from China Labor Watch followed a number of reports exposing the poor record of Apple’s suppliers, with Foxconn factories gaining notoriety for their alleged exploitation of workers.

Determined to distance itself from such controversy, Samsung has said it will inspect 250 Chinese companies which make its products to ensure no labour laws are broken, reports Reuters. The Korean firm launched a similar audit when the China Labor Watch report was first published, and this found several instances of inadequate management, unsafe practices, overtime that ran beyond local regulations and improper safety measures.

Samsung claims no underage workers were found in the investigation, but promises to end its business with HEG if evidence of such employment comes to light. "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," the company said in a statement published on Reuters.

Though HEG has been the supplier thrown under the spotlight, Samsung claims all of its affiliated companies run the risk of being cut off should they be proved guilty of bad practice. "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," the statement continued.

The company will be hoping the denunciation of labour abuse keeps attention fixed on its new products, and not how they were made. The 5.5in Galaxy Note 2 was launched at IFA in Berlin last week, with comparisons being made to the market-dominating Samsung Galaxy S3.