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China Labor Watch hits out at Samsung over poor working conditions

A US agency has hit out at Samsung's admission of poor working conditions at Chinese factories that make its products.

Yesterday, the South Korean firm revealed that a September audit found "several instances of inadequate practices" at 105 of its suppliers investigated in China, which currently employs more than 65,000 people. The violations include excessive overtime, labour contract issues and fines for late arrivals and absence. Samsung said it would implement changes to tackle the problems.

However, New York-based China Labor Watch (CLW), whose original allegations of poor working conditions made in August prompted Samsung's audit, has said that a follow up investigation found that employees are still working up to six times the legal overtime limit.

"The worst situation is in a Samsung supplier factory called Chitwing Mould Industry, where workers' overtime hours surpass 220 hours per month. Workers here can work up to 15 or 16 hours per day with perhaps one day of rest per month," said CLW in a statement.

The agency also pointed out that the auditing system adopted by Samsung is known for being notoriously unreliable.

"Instead of audits, Samsung should establish direct channels of communication with its workers, such as worker committees or a worker hotline," CLW added.

Samsung has revealed that hotlines are being set up for workers to anonymously report any violation or inhumane treatment. The firm also said that it would implement measures to reduce working hours, fix contract problems and strengthen new hiring procedures to avoid child labour.

"We have identified the need for initiatives to reduce employee overtime as a top priority, and we are researching and developing measures that will eliminate hours beyond legal limits by the end of 2014," the company said in a statement.

Despite the poor working conditions the firm was proud to announce that the audit found no evidence of child labour and said it would review 144 more suppliers in China.

Samsung is the latest tech company to come under fire over the treatment of its staff in overseas factories.

Last month, Foxconn, which produces iPhones and iPads for Apple in China, admitted to hiring interns that are under China's legal working age. The Taiwanese manufacturing firm has also repeatedly been criticised for poor working conditions and exploitation resulting in riots and other unrest.