Samsung to investigate fresh accusations of worker abuse

Samsung today reiterated its commitment to investigate accusations of child labour abuse at its Chinese factories after a labour group released an audit of another eight Samsung facilities.

"Samsung conducts routine audits of its facilities to ensure any potential violations are identified and workers are being protected," Samsung said in a blog post. "We are in full compliance with all laws related to child labour, forced labour and workplace discrimination."

China Labor Watch conducted two investigations into Samsung supplier HEG Electronics in June and July, and in a report issued last month, the group said it found issues of child and student labour exploitation. Student workers comprised 80 per cent of the workforce, enduring the "same harsh conditions as adult workers," at 70 per cent of the wages, China Labor Watch said.

In response, Samsung said it had already conducted two separate on-site inspections and found no irregularities, but pledged to take a third look.

Earlier this week, China Labor Watch released a second report that examined eight additional Samsung factories. The group said it uncovered a "long list of severe labour abuses" at the facilities, which manufacture mobile phones, DVD players, mobile displays, air conditioners and other electronics and related parts for Samsung.

Today, Samsung pledged to "closely review the recent China Labor Watch report and take corrective actions if any violations of our labour policies are found."

In a 3 September blog post, Samsung said it audited all HEG Electronics facility employees, performed face-to-face ID checks, reviewed HR records, and conducted one-on-one interviews with student workers – none of whom were underage.

Samsung, however, did uncover instances of inadequate management and potentially unsafe working conditions, including excessive overtime. But it pledged to take additional steps to improve working hours, specifically during the building of new lines or manufacturing of new products.

"We are implementing a rigorous plan to address any potential violations," the company said. "Samsung recognises it must continually and thoroughly ensure all sites within its supply chain are fully compliant with Samsung's policies."

The company plans to complete on-site inspections of all 105 Samsung-specific supplier companies in China this month, and contract with the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC) for regular on-site inspections.

"At Samsung, the health and safety of our employees is our primary concern and we will continue to abide by all labour and human rights laws in each respective operating region," the company said today.