Samsung discovers child labor evidence, suspends supplier

Samsung has suspended business with a supplier following the discovery of 'evidence' related to the use of child labor.

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Following allegations of underage workers at a Samsung supplier, the company's investigation has led to the suspension of business between Dongguan Shinyang Electronics and the tech giant.

Last week, nonprofit labor group China Labor Watch accused the South Korean firm of using underage workers within its supply chain. The New York-based organization said that after investigating one of Samsung's suppliers, Shinyang Electronics, the group discovered the use of child labor.

CLW claimed that suppliers like Shinyang Electronics relax hiring practices during busy seasons, and as a result, child labor may be used. The watchdog said these workers will be on the assembly lines "for a period of three to six months, toiling for 11 hours every day without overtime pay, and the factory does not purchase social insurance for them as required by law."

The labor watchdog said Shinyang Electronics was responsible for at least 15 sets of labor violations, including unpaid overtime, a lack of safety training, no social insurance for employees, and blank labor contracts.

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Samsung says that in an independent investigation following CLW's allegations, the tech giant found evidence of illegal hiring processes which took place on June 29. Chinese authorities are looking into the case, and it is possible that fake IDs may have been used by minors to secure work at the factory.

Samsung says that after launching an "urgent" investigation into the China watchdog's claims, the electronics giant also discovered "evidence of suspected child labor" at the factory. As a result, Samsung has now suspended business temporarily with Shinyang Electronics.

Samsung maintains it has a "zero tolerance policy" on child labor, and the discovery of evidence is "unfortunate" considering the firm's efforts to prevent the use of underage workers within its supply chain.

On June 30, Samsung published its 2014 sustainability report which states that after inspecting working conditions at 200 suppliers in 2013, "no instances of child labor were found." The company says it has conducted three audits since 2013 at Shinyang Electronics, and the latest audit was concluded on June 25 this year — but there has been no previous evidence to support the idea that the Chinese supplier was using underage workers.

Once the investigations are concluded, if the conclusion reached is that the supplier did hire children, then Samsung says it will "permanently halt business" with Shinyang Electronics. In addition, the company plans to strengthen hiring processes to try and avoid a repeat scenario in the future.

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