Samsung Electronics has found itself in a bit of hot water after being accused of using illegal child labor and mistreating workers in China by a labor rights group. The group, China Labor Watch, launched an investigation into the conditions on the job at eight factories in China. The group is located in New York. The investigation found that some of the employees were on the job for over 100 hours per month in overtime and children were employed as well.
The investigation included six plants owned by Samsung and two plants that were owned by suppliers. The plants were also not providing employees with protective clothing. Samsung has also been accused of not permitting employees from sitting while working and the group says it has documents that describe physical and verbal abuse incidents.
The company, based in South Korea, said that a review will be conducted and that poor working conditions probably occurred because of an increase in demand for production.
“We frequently review our manufacturing facilities regarding overtime work. We will re-evaluate working hour practices,” said spokesman James Chung. “When new production lines are completed or new products are launched, high demand has led to overtime work.”
Samsung did deny the allegations that it used child labor, saying that it employs “zero tolerance” for using child laborers. According to the report from China Labor Watch, some employees worked over 100 hours per month in overtime and received just one day off per month. The report also said that workers were paid $206 per month, forcing them to work overtime because of the low wages.
“Dependence on overtime work is characteristic of workers at almost every investigated factory,” the report said.
It is illegal to hire workers under 16-years-old in China but the report states that Samsung and its suppliers knew it was hiring workers who were using fake ID cards to acquire jobs. The report said, “the factory did not take any actions to prevent the hiring of child workers even when they know about them. Even when they suffered unfair treatment, workers at almost factory lacked any effective channel by which to express grievances to management.”
Investigators from China Labor Watch entered the eight plants undercover to perform their research or talked with employees outside of work. Between the eight plants there are 24,000 employees. HEG Electronics, a supplier for Samsung, was accused of using child labor in its plant as well. Samsung is going to audit the working conditions for 250 companies in Samsung’s supply chain. The company said that it would end contracts if policy violations are discovered.