China Labor Watch has just published a damning report on eight Samsung factories. Six of them are directly operated by Samsung, the other two are supplier factories for Samsung. The report found a “long list of severe labor abuses” which includes the following claims about worker’s conditions:
- well over 100 hours of forced overtime work per month
- unpaid work
- standing for 11 to 12 hours while working
- underage workers
- severe age and gender discrimination
- abuse of student and labor dispatch workers
- a lack of worker safety
- verbal and physical abuse
The factories in question employ over 20,000 workers between them and manufacture everything from cell phones and DVD players, to mobile displays, air conditioners, and other electronics and related parts for Samsung.
It seems the worst conditions can be found in a supplier factory, Tianjin Intops Co., Ltd, where workers stand for 11 hours a day, aren’t allowed to wear shoes, and work up to 150 hours of overtime a month during peak season. Even the Samsung owned factories are guilty of many abuses according to the 122 page report, particularly excessive overtime and exhausting working conditions.
We saw the recent reports from China Labor Watch about one of Samsung’s component suppliers exploiting underage children. In response to the labor rights group, CLW, which is based in New York, Samsung did an audit of HEG and promised improvements, though it did not find evidence of underage workers.
This latest claim about poor working conditions in Samsung factories and those of its suppliers puts more pressure on the company to improve labor conditions. CLW is calling for Samsung to spend some of its $12 billion 2011 profits on better working conditions.
The treatment of Chinese workers producing electronics is gaining more press of late. We also heard about problems at Foxconn, suppliers of Acer, Apple, and Amazon earlier in the year. The failure of hugely successful companies to provide safe working conditions and a real living wage for their workers is scandalous and it’s an issue they need to address.
You can find footage of the Samsung factories in question on YouTube. The company has yet to respond to the allegations.