Samsung denies supplier used child labor

Samsung says an investigation of conditions at one of its supplier’s Chinese factories has revealed problems with working conditions, but no child labor.

Last month, campaign group China Labor Watch (CLW) said it had found seven children working at HEG Electronics, and suspected that there might be as many as 100 in all.

The company has now completed a hasty audit carried out by by 30 of its own staff.

“Due to the high turnover rate at the HEG facility, around 30 percent per month, the audit encountered some limitations. However through on-site investigations, we audited all HEG employees including face-to-face ID checks, reviewed HR records, and conducted 1:1 interviews with student workers,” says Samsung.

“Samsung investigators did not identify any underage workers during the site audit at HEG Electronics in Huizhou, but we identified workers under the age of 18 on site. These workers are over the age of 16 and are student workers or interns, and their presence is legal.”

This, though, is unlikely to satisfy the company’s critics. A staff turnover of 30 percent a month – not exactly encouraging in itself – means that any under-16s at the plant could have now left without attracting too much attention. In any case, CLW has said all along that the child workers it found all had ID identifying them as over 16.

Nevertheless, the company says it does intend to stamp out some of the inadequate working conditions seen by its investigators.

“A system of fines for lateness or absences was found to be in operation. Instances of overtime beyond local regulations, or over 9 hours per week, were identified. Certain health and safety measures were inadequate, such as a failure to provide access to a medical clinic,” it says.

“Samsung has demanded that HEG immediately improve its working conditions. We have formally notified the company that it must comply with all applicable labor laws and Samsung’s labor and employment right policies. If HEG fails to meet Samsung’s zero tolerance policy on child labor, the contract will be immediately severed.”