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Samsung promises to investigate child labour allegations at supplier factory

Samsung’s PR machine must be working in overdrive to respond to a report by China Labor Watch claiming that one of the South Korean company’s suppliers employs underage workers at one of its factories. Samsung has hastily promised to send a team of inspectors to HEG Electronics’ factory in Huizhou, China to investigate the watchdog’s accusations.

Among other electronics, HEG makes DVD players and mobile phones for Samsung, and also supplies the likes of Motorola and LG.

CLW’s report posits that, based on three investigations carried out in June and July of this year, the company’s factory workforce is overwhelmingly made up of students and children under the age of 16. Those children were found to be working “under same harsh conditions as adult workers, but were paid only 70% of the wages when compared with the formal employees.”

The report also points to a handful of labour infractions, including forced overtime, legally problematic reward and punishment policies, and dangerous working conditions.

In a statement sent to the Verge, Samsung insisted that two inspections of the facility this year, carried out by third-party Chinese contractors, did not surface any infractions.

“A team of inspectors consisting of Samsung personnel from Korea headquarters will be dispatched to Huizhou, China on August 9, and it will immediately launch an investigation and take appropriate measures to correct any problems that may surface,” the company wrote.

“Samsung Electronics is a company held to the highest standards of working conditions and we try to maintain that at our facilities and the facilities of partner companies around the world,” the statement continued.

Similar reports uncovering sub-standard labour environments have sadly become the norm. CLW, which previously investigated the facilities of Apple supplier Foxconn, has said that “working conditions at HEG are well below those general conditions in Apple’s supplier factories.” Looks like Samsung may have to do more than simply feign ignorance.

Image Credit: China Labor Watch