Global electronics giant Samsung should immediately cease child labor abuses at its cell phone supplier factory in China, according to the nonprofit Green America, which urged concerned consumers to take action by signing a petition at www.greenamerica.org/samsung/.
The Green America petition comes in reaction to a report released late yesterday by the workers’ rights watchdog organization China Labor Watch (CLW), Another Samsung Supplier Exploiting Child Labor, in which underage workers were found to be working at Shinyang Electronic Co. Ltd. Shinyang is a South Korean-owned company, mainly producing the covers and other parts for Samsung cell phones. The report reveals that five children (under 16) were found to be working in this facility, as well as numerous minors (under 18). These young workers are subject to the same long hours as other workers, and compensated less. These children were also working the night shift, from 8:00 pm to 8:00 am, six to seven days a week.
Green America’s latest petition adds to a growing global movement for more responsibly-made electronics. In the past few months, more than 20,000 individuals have signed Green America’s petition to Apple calling on the company to “end smartphone sweatshops” by addressing worker health and safety risks.
“It’s criminal for Samsung to profit at the expense of children,” said Green America campaigns director Elizabeth O’Connell, “Samsung needs to take immediate action in this facility and others to ensure that children are removed from work and compensated appropriately. Additionally, Samsung must take action to address serious health and safety failings in its facilities.”
In Samsung’s most recent sustainability report the company said it inspected working conditions at 200 suppliers in 2013 and that “no instances of child labor were found.” The violations found in CLW’s report raise questions about the effectiveness and thoroughness of Samsung’s self-monitoring.
CLW’s Executive Director Li Qiang said, “Samsung’s social responsibility reports are just advertisement. Samsung has put its energy into audits and the production of these reports, but these things are meant to appease investors and don’t have any real value for workers. Samsung’s monitoring system is ineffective and has failed to bring about improvements for workers. What Samsung says is not important; what’s important is their actions.”
Additional reports from Korea have indicated that more than 200 former Samsung workers suffer from grave illnesses, allegedly contracted while working in Samsung plants.
Samsung is the most popular cell phone manufacturer in the world. In 2013, Samsung sold an estimated 550 million phones worldwide, or nearly twice as many phones as the US population.
Workers in Samsung’s facilities in China, Korea and elsewhere work long hours for little pay and often do not have adequate safety training or equipment to keep themselves safe on the job.
Additional findings in the report, Another Samsung Supplier Exploiting Child Labor, include:
- Shinyang employs child labor (under 16 years of age), in violation of China’s Labor Law. These child workers, without a labor contract, do the same work for the same long night-shift hours and at the same intensity as adult workers but are paid one-third less. Child laborers are only paid for 10 hours of work a day despite working for 11 hours.
- Shinyang employs many minors (under 18 years of age). These are typically students who enter the factory as temp workers.
- Workers do not receive any pre-job safety training in spite of the 24 hours required by China’s Provisions on Safety Training of Production and Operation Entities. This is despite coming in contact with harmful chemicals, such as industrial alcohol and thinners.
- Workers do not necessarily receive protective equipment, such as gloves or masks, from the factory, only receiving equipment after requesting for it.
- The factory employs hundreds of temporary workers who are paid a flat hourly rate, regardless of overtime hours worked, in violation of Chinese labor regulations.
- Workers are made to work 11 hours per day, as many as 30 days per month, accumulating more than 120 hours of overtime, more than three times in excess of China’s legal limit of 36 hours.
- In order to hide excessive overtime hours from inspection of documents, Shinyang lists the overtime pay for all overtime beyond 80 hours as “benefits” on workers’ pay stubs.
The full report can be viewed on China Labor Watch’s website.
These abuses are in violation of national laws, international labor law, and Samsung’s own Global Code of Conduct, which states that the company will treat workers in a fair and legal manner, will not endanger worker health and safety, and will not hire underage workers.
Consumers wishing to take action against Samsung can visit www.GreenAmerica.org/Samsung/
Consumers looking for a more responsible phone choice can use Green America’s flow chart. http://blog.greenamerica.org/2014/06/25/well-what-phone-should-i-buy-then/
ABOUT GREEN AMERICA
Green America is the nation’s leading green economy organization. Founded in 1982, Green America (formerly Co-op America) provides the economic strategies, organizing power and practical tools for businesses, investors, and individuals to solve today’s social and environmental problems. http://www.greenamerica.org.