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Samsung admits to labour breaches in Chinese factories

26 Nov 2012
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Samsung has confirmed that an audit of several partner factories in China has unearthed several breaches of workers' rights.

Samsung instigated an audit after a report from China Labor Watch (CLW) accused the firm of labour law breaches at eight factories in China.

These breaches included staff being forced to work over 100 hours of overtime per month, unpaid work, standing for 11 to 12 hours while working, underage workers, age and gender discrimination, abuse of student and labour dispatch workers, a lack of worker safety, and verbal and physical abuse.

Samsung said it found evidence of many of these issues based on its own audits.

“The audit identified several instances of inadequate practices at the facilities, including overtime hours in excess of local regulations, management of supplier companies holding copies of labour contracts, and the imposition of a system of fines for lateness or absence,” Samsung declared on a company blog.

Samsung outlined a number of responses too, including anonymous hotlines for workers to report issues, enforcing suppliers to provide adequate safety equipment and sufficient safety training and better management training on abuse issues.

However, Samsung said its 120-strong audit team reviewed HR records of all workers younger than 18 and carried out face-to-face ID checks, but found no cases of underage workers.

Samsung is not the only tech maker to land in hot water over working conditions at factories in China that make its goods.

Arch-rival Apple has repeatedly faced claims of gruelling working conditions at the Foxconn plants that put together its iPhones.

Earlier this year, it too conducted an audit of working conditions at its partners' factories in China.

Both Apple and Samsung have generated billions of dollars in sales of their smartphones and tablets. but workers' rights groups, such as CLW, have grown increasingly concerned that those putting together the devices are often forced to work in sweatshop-like conditions.

Samsung could not resist taking a dig at Apple in its latest blog posting, either.

“Samsung mostly manufactures its products in-house through the company’s own facilities, although some manufacturing is outsourced when necessary," it said.

“Unlike companies that rely predominantly on the outsourcing of manufacturing, Samsung can maintain its own high standards throughout its in-house manufacturing network to offer world-class working conditions.”

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