China blames companies for lack of "human care" as Samsung, Apple factories under scrutiny

A Chinese government official points to problems with managing workers' overtime

A Chinese official on Monday weighed in on the controversy surrounding working conditions at Apple and Samsung's suppliers in the country, stating that certain companies were lacking in "human care" in treating their workers.

While a majority of the companies in China are in compliance with the nation's labor laws, a small number of them have issues with managing workers' overtime, said Xin Changxing, a vice minister with China's Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security.

Speaking at a news conference, he said the companies do not keep the overtime within legal limits, and do not compensate employees adequately for the extra time worked.

"There are also some companies with a management style that is more simple," Xin said. "They treat workers with a lack of human care."

The vice minister made his statement without naming specific companies. But he gave his response while answering a question on problems relating to the nation's labor employment and supervision in the context of the reports on poor working conditions at Apple and Samsung suppliers in China.

Problems at the factories often include workers being forced to stand for 12 hours, the lack of proper safety equipment, and monthly overtime exceeding 100 hours, according to labor protection groups.

In response, Apple and Samsung have announced measures to improve working conditions at their factories. The most recent action occurred last week, when Samsung pledged to conduct on-site inspections of 105 suppliers in China.

To ensure compliance with labor laws, the nation's Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security will continue to improve the monitoring of adherence to labor safeguards, Xin said.

Local authorities recently went into action to investigate a Samsung supplier after New York-based China Labor Watch claimed to have found underage workers at the factory.

Authorities, however, found no such violation. China Labor Watch said officials failed to make a thorough investigation, noting that the underage workers were using fabricated IDs and had been driven off by the factory in the wake of the reports.

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Michael Kan

IDG News Service
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