Samsung to correct 'inadequate' labor practices in China

South Korean electronics giant reports no child labor abuses after an internal audit, but it will rectify certain shortcomings in its labor practices such as excessive overtime and fines for latecomers.
Written by Kevin Kwang, Contributor

Samsung Electronics will be tightening up its hiring and labor-related practices in China following an internal audit of 105 suppliers in China, which found several instances of "inadequate practices" at these facilities.

In a statement issued Monday, the South Korean electronics giant said it conducted an audit of suppliers manufacturing Samsung products over a four-week period in September, which covered more than 65,000 employees.

The internal audit followed a China Labor Watch report in September which looked into the conditions of 6 Samsung-managed manufacturing facilities and the facilities of 2 partner manufacturers during the period of May and August. In its investigation, it uncovered 16 major sets of labor mistreatment which included abuse of underage workers below 18 years old and forced and excessive overtime.

However, Samsung stated in its findings that no instance of child labor was discovered after reviewing human resource (HR) records of all workers aged below 18 and conducting face-to-face ID checks.

It did identify certain practices which corroborated the findings of China Labor Watch, though. These include overtime hours in excess of local regulations, supplier companies withholding labor contracts from workers, and the imposition of a system of fines for being late or absent from work, it noted.

"We are now designing, researching and/or implementing corrective actions to address every violation that was identified. Corrective actions include new hiring policies and work hours and overtime practices, to protect the health and welfare of employees," Samsung said.

The company is currently reviewing 144 more supply chain partners in China, and the audit will be completed by end 2012. It will also commit to ensuring the independence of the audits and continue monitoring work conditions at 249 Samsung suppliers in China through a third-party audit program--the Validated Audit Process of the Electronic Citizenship Coalition, it added.

Samsung's internal audit follows in the footsteps of rival Apple which is also pressuring its Chinese manufacturing partners to adhere to labor laws.

Foxconn, which produces iPhones and iPads for Apple, is one which has clamped down on underage workers as a result of this renewed commitment to improve labor practices in China. The Taiwanese contract manufacturer in October said it found underaged interns aged 14 to 16 working in its Yantai factory, and it subsequently sent them back to school.


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