Labor conditions are an ongoing issue in parts of Asia which Samsung found out, again, last week. Apparently several workers under the age of 16 (the legal working age in China) were found working in a factory run by Chinese manufacturer Pegatron that supplies parts for Samsung phones. Today, Samsung, a South Korean company, cut ties temporarily with the Chinese supplier pending an investigation.
Last week, nonprofit labor group China Labor Watch accused the South Korean company of overlooking the use of child labor at supplier Shinyang Electronics Co., which makes cellphone covers and parts for Samsung in Dongguan, China. China Labor Watch, based in New York, claimed it found several cases of underage workers being put to work at the factory without being paid for overtime hours.
Samsung had previously rebutted the watchdog’s latest claims, saying that its previous audits on the factory had revealed “no cases of child labor.”
However, in a separate investigation that the company conducted immediately after last week’s allegations raised by China Labor Watch, Samsung found evidence of an “illegal hiring process that took place on June 29,” the company said in a written statement Monday.
Shinyang couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
This isn’t the first time Pegatron’s been correctly accused of violating even China’s lax labor laws. Just last year, China Labor Watch accused the manufacturer of screwing its workers just as the company had snatched away a bunch of contracts from Foxconn, a huge manufacturer for Apple.
China Labor Watch, the US-based worker welfare monitor, now alleges that Chinese factories run by the up-and-coming Taiwan-based manufacturer are “even worse” than Foxconn’s. It claims to have found health and safety violations, poor living conditions in dorms, and the coercion of workers by withholding their pay or identity cards — in other words, the sort of stuff that breaches both Chinese law and Apple’s supplier policy. Its latest report also accuses Apple of failing to treat abuses with the same urgency that it applies to lapses in product quality.
The Chinese government is also conducting its own investigation and Samsung has stated publicly that if the investigation shows that Pegatron committed the violations it’s accused of then Samsung will stop doing business with them permanently. No word from Apple on whether they’d stop as well. But if history is any judge then they wouldn’t.