Samsung Investigating Child Labor Claims at Supplier's Factory in China

Paul Lilly

Samsung wasted no time in sending a team of executives to one of its suppliers' factories in China to investigate claims that it may be using child labor. The in-house investigation is in rapid response to a China Labor Watch (CLW) report alleging to have found issues of underage workers and student labor exploitation at HEG, which builds mobile phones, DVDs, stereo equipment, and MP3 players for Samsung.

"During the first investigation, seven children—all of them are under the age of 16—were found working in the same department as our investigators," CLW said in a statement . "This suggests that child labor is a common practice in the factory. The number of underage workers throughout the factory is unknown because our investigators had limited contact with workers in other departments. But the company has clearly violated Chinese labor laws."

According to the report, children "working under [the] same harsh conditions as adult workers" at HEG are being paying a 30 percent reduction in wages. Furthermore, CLW alleges a number of other Chinese labor law violations, including excessively long work weeks, discrimination in the hiring process, shortened breaks for night shift workers, and more.

In a statement to The Verge , Samsung said it conducted two separate on-site inspections at HEG already this year, but found no violations. Samsung also said it's going back for a third time.

"A team of inspectors consisting of Samsung personnel from Korea headquarters will be dispatched to Huizhou, China on August 9, and it will immediately launch an investigation and take appropriate measures to correct any problems that may surface," Samsung told The Verge . "Samsung Electronics is a company held to the highest standards of working conditions and we try to maintain that at our facilities and the facilities of partner companies around the world."

This isn't the first time a high-profile electronics company has been linked to poor working conditions at one its Chinese suppliers. Foxconn, which builds iPhone and iPad devices for Apple, along with all sorts of gadgets for various OEMs, went through a rash of worker suicides before vowing to improve wages and working conditions in general.

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