Samsung Electronics Co Ltd said it had temporarily suspended business in one of its facility in China after finding evidence that its supplier was employing child workers. The move comes less than a week after a US watchdog report accused the supplier of using under-aged workers and criticised Samsung’s monitoring of labor practices at suppliers was inadequate.
The South Korean smartphone maker said it conducted three audits of the supplier since 2013, an entirely owned subsidiary of South Korea's Shinyang Engineering Co Ltd, the latest of which was completed on June 25. However, another investigation induced by the watchdog's report led to evidence of what Samsung called an illegal hiring process at Dongguan Shinyang Electronics Co Ltd, pointing to holes in the world's biggest smartphone maker's potency to impose its labour guidelines for Chinese suppliers.
“The Chinese authorities are also looking into the case,” Samsung said in a statement today, adding that it would cut all ties with the supplier if the allegations were true. “If the investigations conclude that the supplier indeed hired children illegally, Samsung will permanently halt business with the supplier in accordance with its zero-tolerance policy on child labour,” it said.
US-based activist organisation, China Labor’s disturbing new report alleging that the Chinese firm used child labour within a Samsung supplier’s factory claims that a number of their seasoned workers on the assembly line are minors without contracts at the supplier. Not only that, the report also says that child labourers it found working at Dongguan Shinyang were being paid nearly two-thirds of what adult workers would be paid in weekly wages despite working seven days a week, 11 hours a day, with no paid overtime. The report also speaks of poor living and dangerous working conditions in which the child workers also had trouble eating proper food at the factory cafeteria due to their night shift hours.
It was also reported that the supplier's personnel at Dongguan Shinyang did not follow the required facial recognition system meant to corroborate whether the applicant's face matched the ID provided.
Samsung pushes for suppliers to adopt a hiring process that includes face-to-face interviews and the use of electronic scanners to spot fake IDs, to ensure no child workers are employed.
Since 2012, the labour practices at Samsung suppliers have come under intense scrutiny, when the watchdog accused one of Samsung’s suppliers of using child labour, it was reported that seven children younger than 16 were working for one of Samsung’s China-based suppliers. The electronics giant subsequently denied of any under-aged workers at the facility. Even the Chinese labour law forbids hiring workers who are under 16.