Samsung supplier HTNS Shenzhen has been accused of hiring underage workers, forcing overtime and other violations by China Labour Watch (CLW). This accusation has come to light despite the fact that Samsung had refuted these charges in November and conducted an audit on all its suppliers.

CLW  said in a report that it found three workers under the age of 16 at HTNS, one of whom had been a part of the factory since before the audit took place. Samsung set out to talk with two of the girls after being notified by CLW, but they no longer work with HTNS, making it impossible for the electronics giant to contact them.

Treated the same as adult workers, these three girls work overtime hours in excess of 13 hours per day and are paid overtime wages below the legal standard,” said CLW’s press release. The monthly overtime hours of one of the underage labourer surpassed 150 hours.

Sneaky Samsung

Violating Labour Laws?

Investigators from CLW have also claimed that child labour was discovered in other factories that produce for Samsung, too. “Samsung must not allow such labour violations in its supply chain. It should put measures in place immediately to ensure that no more child workers will be involved in any part of the production or assembly process of Samsung products,” the release said.

Lashing out at Samsung’s eyewash of an audit, CLW’s Executive Director Li Qiang said, “This incident shows the ineffectiveness of Samsung’s audits in protecting its workers’ labour rights. These audits are really intended to be effective PR tools, but in reality, Samsung’s audits are false advertisements.”

Samsung released the findings of a four-week-long audit of its Chinese manufacturing units and promised to make changes to rectify the labour abuse it exposed in November.

The internal audit of Samsung’s 105 units around China came after the watchdog group China Labour Watch alleged that one of its suppliers, HEG Electronics, employed workers under the age of 16. Soon after the accusations in August, Samsung refuted the claim saying that it has a “zero tolerance policy on child labour violations” and promised to hold an audit to ensure China's laws were not being violated.

Though the audit found no instances of child labour in the factories, it did find other rules and regulations concerning labour laws being flouted. “The audit identified several instances of inadequate practices at the facilities, including overtime hours in excess of local regulations, management of supplier companies holding copies of labour contracts, and the imposition of a system of fines for lateness or absences,” Samsung had said in a statement.

The electronics giant has vowed to take corrective measures to eliminate these issues, ridding the factories of discrimination and fines, while increasing safety and health standards.

All suppliers have been asked by Samsung to adopt new hiring processes, claiming that it will terminate contracts with suppliers who employ child labour. The suppliers have also been asked to “correct irregularities in labour contracts and distribute one copy to all employees” by the end of this year.

Earlier this year, Apple too came under fire along with its suppliers Foxconn for breaking labour laws. Following a spate of critical reports detailing unsafe factory practices at Foxconn plants that triggered worker deaths and suicides, Apple earier this year joined the US based Fair Labor Association (FLA) to conduct a high-profile probe of Foxconn's factories in China.

The FLA recommended several changes to Foxconn's policies and workflow, which Foxconn agreed to implement. In late June and early July, the FLA returned to chart Foxconn's progress thus far, and found improvements.

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