Samsung was “urgently” looking into fresh allegations of child labor at a supplier’s China factory last week, after New York-based watchdog China Labor Watch (CLW) accused the Korean company of employing underaged workers at Shinyang Electronics.
Now Samsung has just announced that it has “temporarily suspended business with the factory in question” after it indeed found evidence of child labor at the factory. This comes despite Samsung earlier saying that it didn’t find any cases of child labor even after conducting audits on three occasions since 2013, with the latest one ending June 25 this year.
“In the separate investigation following the CLW allegations, however, Samsung found evidence of (an) illegal hiring process that took place on June 29. The Chinese authorities are also looking into the case,” Samsung now says.
In a report, CLW said it sent an undercover investigator into the Shinyang factory in June this year, and uncovered five child workers (under 16 years old) by just the third day, with evidence of more in subsequent days. It noted that Shinyang hired child labor and underage student workers during the busy season as it was in urgent need of labor. The minors were said to work 11 hours a day for about three to six months, without getting overtime pay and social insurance.
Samsung added that if the investigations conclude that the supplier hired children illegally, it will “permanently” stop doing business with the supplier.
“It is unfortunate that the allegation surfaced despite Samsung’s efforts to prevent child labor at its suppliers. As part of its pledge against child labor, Samsung routinely conducts inspections to monitor its suppliers in China to ensure they follow the commitment, and has provided necessary support,” it said.
Samsung told TNW earlier that it has a strict “zero tolerance policy” on child labor and it routinely conducts inspections to make sure its suppliers follow such a commitment. It noted that it has demanded its suppliers adopt a new hiring process to boost identity verification starting late 2012, and introduced a facial recognition system in April this year. It also said that it had announced a Child Labor Prohibition Policy in China on June 27.
Headline image via Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images