Everything today seems to be made in China, from the clothes we wear to the smartphones we carry in our pockets and most other components in between. This happens to be so, not only due to the cheaper labor in the region, but also the Chinese industry's flexibility and agility. Where else can you implement a redesign in components and manufacturing process and expect it to be ready to go within hours?
However, there's a downside to this, which usually involves a human resources question. Chinese manufacturing facilities are often accused of unfair labor practices, including underpayment, overworking, and even hiring of under-age employees. Even Apple is not immune to these accusations, and the company actually highlighted its “supplier accountability” effort earlier this year, in order to avert yet another PR disaster.
This time around, another big company has been accused of sourcing out jobs to suppliers that are not exactly labor friendly. China's HEG Electronics Co. has been criticized by New York-based China Labor Watch for supposedly employing laborers under China's legal working age of 16. The organization also accused HEG of forcing these informal laborers to work 11 to 13 hours per day, but only paying wages 70% of the standard.
HEG supplies mobile phones and other electronics products to brand-companies around the world, including South Korean firm Samsung.
A statement by the southern Chinese Guangdong province said it found no labor-related violations after launching a formal inquiry into the matter, China.org.cn reports. In particular, government officials say the laborers cited by China Labor Watch were found to be aged 16 to 18, above the legal working age in the region. Additionally, the statement said HEG's 3,100 workers were found to be compensated on-time, and were not tasked to work excessive hours.
Samsung has already said it found no irregularities after prior on-site inspections, although it plans to “conduct another field survey” to verify reports.