Bloomberg on Friday reported that Samsung supplier HTNS Shenzhen has hired “at least three girls under the legal working age of 16 in China,” according to China Labor Watch. Just a day later the South Korean company issued an official response to these accusations.
China Labor Watch also said that HTNS, makers of smartphone covers, force overtime and was responsible for poor air quality at the workplace.
However, the main issue raised by the group was the age of certain employees, with HTNS accused to not having verified IDs properly, which lead to the hiring of underage workers.
This isn’t the first time we hear allegations that a Chinese parts supplier for important players in the mobile business are not playing by the rules when it comes to offering a decent working environment. Just recently, Samsung revealed that it was taking steps in order to “correct labor issues,” with its suppliers, although child labor wasn’t one of the problems it encountered.
Earlier today, Samsung stated that it has conducted an investigation and discovered that all three girls that China Labor Watch alleged were underage have been found to be over 18 of age:
Our investigation into this matter included a meeting on December 14, 2012 with the alleged underage employee currently working at this supplier. A representative from China Labor Watch was present at this meeting in which she was confirmed as being of legal age. During this meeting she stated, “I do not understand why we are having this discussion. I am over 18 years of age.”
We have also confirmed that two other alleged underage employees. who are no longer with this supplier were of legal age when hired. During the hiring process, their ages and identities were verified through an electronic device that detects fake ID cards.
In its response, Samsung also revealed that it makes 90% of parts needed to conduct its businesses, the company is also relying on third-party companies such as HTNS to provide the extra 10%.
Like it or not, most of our gadgets are manufactured in, or have parts that come from China, with local providers bending the rules as much as possible for a profit, especially when it comes to the highly profitable mobile business. And since every company that’s relevant for the business also has Chinese suppliers, it means from time to time we’ll continue to see such reports come out.