The New York-based BGO, China Labor Watch, said in its latest report HEG Electronics (Huizhou), an important partner of South Korea's Samsung, could be hiring well over 100 student workers under the age of 16.
The child workers lived and worked under the same "appalling" conditions as adult workers, but were paid 70 percent of the normal wages, the organization said. They often carried out dangerous tasks that resulted in injuries. In a production department of HEG, undercover investigators identified seven child workers aged under 16. Most of them were students of vocational schools and who were trying to gain some working experience during summer break.
According to the report, child labor proportion could skyrocket to over 80 percent of the whole workforce during the summer and winter breaks. Arrangements were made between school teachers and HEG to get students to work as interns, and the report suspected teachers were forging IDs to get underaged students into the factory.
"It is getting harder for factories to find enough workforce when there are a lot of production orders, but the students in vocational schools happened to be very eager to put more working experience into their resume," said Zhangyi, CEO of iiMedia Research, an Chinese research institute. "As for the schools, sending students out to work during vocations not only fulfilled their promises of providing students with intern opportunities, but also earned the schools a considerable amount of commission fees."
Both HEG and the vocational schools denied the accusation of exploiting child labor in their talks with a local newspaper. Samsung responded it was carrying out a further investigation starting Aug. 9 and would solve any potential problems.