Chinese watchdog alleges worker abuse at Samsung plants

Chinese watchdog alleges worker abuse at Samsung plants

Summary: China Labor Watch claims it uncovered "inhumane" treatment of workers, including unpaid work and physical abuse, at factories Samsung and its suppliers operate.


Samsung Electronics has been accused of "inhumane" treatment toward workers in the plants the company and its suppliers operate in China, forcing these employees to work overtime and in unsafe conditions.

In a statement released Tuesday, China Labor Watch said it discovered "severe labor abuses" at six factories owned and operated by the South Korean consumer electronics giant, as well as two facilities operated by its suppliers. The violations included forced overtime work amounting to more than 100 hours a month, unpaid work, and workers being made to stand for 11 to 12 hours, it said.

The employees were also subjected to "verbal and physical abuse", and did not have effective internal grievance channels, the group added. "The treatment of Samsung's Chinese factory workers is far from model," the statement said. "The list of illegal and inhumane violations is long."

The findings follow an August report by China Labor Watch stating Samsung employed seven underaged workers. This prompted the South Korean company to broaden inspections of its suppliers. On Monday, Samsung said it would review more than 250 Chinese companies which manufactured its products to determine if laws were broken.

Samsung maintained it did not find any child laborers after an investigation of the factory owned by its Chinese supplier, HEG Electronics, which processes mobile phones, DVDs and stereo equipment for electronic companies including Motorola and LG, The Korea Times reported on Tuesday.

However, it did identify a lack of medical care and some poor working environments in HEG, which the company has promised to correct. Samsung added it was planning two more large-scale probes in September of 105 companies in China which exclusively supplies to the Korean company, and another 144 companies which have other clients in addition to Samsung by the end of 2012.

Topics: Hardware, Consumerization, Government Asia, Samsung, IT Employment

Ellyne Phneah

About Ellyne Phneah

Elly grew up on the adrenaline of crime fiction and it spurred her interest in cybercrime, privacy and the terror on the dark side of IT. At ZDNet Asia, she has made it her mission to warn readers of upcoming security threats, while also covering other tech issues.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • When all the dust settles, nothing will change significantly.

    The companies will promise to correct all of these issues, but over a few millennia and not any sooner.
  • I smell Apple behind this

    They're implementing Job's "thermonuclear" threat and opening FUD on all fronts.
    • No doubt!

      the funny thing is the source (china labor watch) that says samsung is having it's workers do 100hrs overtime a week also reported that apple had it's workers doing 160-180hrs overtime which is way worse!!! which report gets the press? the one that demonizes samsung of course.
      Nadia Reilperson
      • Strange

        There are only 168 hours in a week, so I find it difficult to understand how someone could work 160-180 hours of overtime per week.
  • So let's hear the same Apple apologists

    As long as their pay is better than the average salary and their suicide rates are lower, they should shut up and be glad they are better off than their fellow citizens. At least that is what we kept on being told by the Apple lovers here.
    • What an asshole

      You never cease, do you.
      Cylon Centurion
    • The difference?

      Apple was the one who had a third party inspection done of the Foxconn facility and had that same third party release the results of that audit to the public. Samsung found out after some other inspection was done that they did not authorize. Apple immediately had the issues corrected. All Samsung has done is to give lip service.
      • Clarify Foxconn abuse

        Wouldn't those be the same workers at the same plant? Meaning... that Apples abuses are still happening?
  • Just Another Phase...

    It'll get straightened out. Then they'll change suppliers and it'll start all over again. It's a shell game and the culture is based on that. 20 years from now, this reporting will still be ongoing. Welcome to serfdom with it's new makeup. As long as there is a demand for the products, and the bottom line is "at the lowest cost possible," this will continue. In the meantime, 38 million Americans can't find a job. Their solution is to find a way to make the product even cheaper, so the unemployed can somehow fine a way to afford them, and just like the Titanic, the band played on...
    spooky tooth
  • Apple 600 percent markup

    For that much markup, wouldn't you be more prone to buy all Apple if they moved their workforce to the Country their company is located? And in the transfer create thousands upon thousands of American jobs that do not have these types of abuses?

    Some say (like that professional Fox journalism technique? ;) that you would need to raise prices on the end product. Really? at 600% markup... I doubt it. And even so, wouldn't you pay that extra $20 a product to know that you are contributing to America's economy and ensuring the fair treatment of human beings?