Chinese authorities find no underage workers at Samsung supplier

The supplier, HEG Electronics, also denies employing underage workers

Local authorities in China said on Thursday that they found no underage workers at a Samsung Electronics manufacturing supplier that a labor watchdog group claims has been employing students under the age of 16.

The Huizhou Zhongkai Hi-tech Industrial Development Zone said in an Internet posting authorities investigated Samsung supplier HEG Electronics upon hearing reports of the alleged underage employment at the factory.

Earlier this week, New York-based China Labor Watch said it had found seven workers under the age of 16 being employed at a HEG factory in the Chinese city of Huizhou. Factory employees there often earn about US$1 an hour, and work 11 hours a day, six days a week, according to the group.

Local authorities, however, said they found no such violations. Two of the seven workers the labor group claimed to be underage were 19, while the five other employees were between the ages of 16 and 18, making them eligible to work under Chinese law, according to the Internet posting.

The government investigation also found that HEG had abided by labor laws, and was properly dispensing wages, while also not forcing overtime on employees.

A spokesman for HEG Electronics, who would only give out his surname as Li, said on Friday the company has never employed any underage workers, and that the government's investigation has confirmed this.

China Labor Watch could not be reached immediately for comment. But the group said in a blog posting it rejected Chinese authorities' investigation of the matter.

Following China Labor Watch's report of the alleged underage employment, Samsung immediately sent a team to investigate the HEG factory. A Samsung spokesman said the company had no new information on its investigation.

HEG Electronics builds devices including cell phones and stereo equipment. Earlier this year, Samsung conducted two separate on-site inspections of HEG's working conditions, and found no irregularities.

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