Samsung investigating labor conditions at supplier factory in China

China Labor Watch has accused a Samsung supplier of mistreating its workers

A factory in China that builds phone casings for Samsung is facing accusations that it treats its workers poorly, prompting the electronics giant to investigate.

Workers at a factory run by South Korea-based Samkwang in Dongguan,China, generally log between 86 to 148 overtime hours each month, giving the employees little time to rest, according to a Thursday report from the New York-based China Labor Watch.

The workers, on average, receive 2500 yuan (US$450) a month assembling shell casings for Samsung's Galaxy SIII Mini handset, the watchdog group said in its undercover investigation. The factory is required to assemble 15,000 phone casing a day. The employees, however, are given no safety training and some are forced to work barefoot at certain facilities at the factory.

"However, the facilities' team leaders, directors, and corporate members are allowed to enter facilities in slippers," the report said. "Nobody ever explained why workers must be barefoot."

Quitting the job is also difficult. The factory must sign off on resignations, but management often doesn't approve them, claimed China Labor Watch. As a result, workers wanting to resign will leave the factory without collecting their last month of wages.

Samsung is sending a team to investigate the allegations, the company said on Thursday. Earlier this year, a third-party auditor had checked the labor conditions at the factory. Based on the audit, Samsung said it asked the supplier to make changes. Samsung has been monitoring the process.

Samsung has faced growing scrutiny for the labor conditions in their supplier factories in China. Labor protection groups such as China Labor Watch have claimed to have found problems at certain facilities, including the alleged use of underage workers.

Samsung, however, said 90 percent of its product components come from in-house manufacturing facilities. This allows it to offer "world-class" working conditions. Last year, the company announced new measures to keep its suppliers in line with labor laws.

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Michael Kan

IDG News Service
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