Samsung to Investigate Child Labor Claims at Supplier in China

Jul 09, 2014 10:50 pm ET

July 10 (Bloomberg) -- Samsung Electronics Co., the world’s largest smartphone maker, will investigate allegations by a labor watchdog group that a supplier in China used underage workers to make phone covers and parts.

The company “will take appropriate measures in accordance with our policies to prevent any cases of child labor,” Suwon, South Korea-based Samsung said in an e-mailed statement. At least five workers below the legal age of 16 worked at the plant in Dongguan, China Labor Watch said in a report today, which cited an undercover investigation.

Samsung, like other technology companies including Apple Inc., has come under scrutiny for labor practices in its supply chain. The Galaxy phone maker last week released its sustainability report, which said 59 suppliers failed to provide adequate safety equipment for workers while there were no instances found of child labor.

There is “zero tolerance” at Samsung for underage workers and it’s moving as fast as possible to address labor related issues that have been identified by the company and others, it said today.

The supplier in China was subject to an audit in March 2013, which was followed by third-party inspections in August and another last month, with no child labor found, Samsung said.

Besides underage workers, the investigation found violations of other labor laws, including unpaid overtime wages, excessive overtime and a lack of social insurance and training, China Labor Watch said.

“Samsung continues to fail to implement its own code of conduct and social commitments, and its suppliers as a result continue not to take these standards seriously,” China Labor Watch said.