It looks like Apple and Samsung have another thing in common, aside from their love of rectangular tablet designs: alleged labor abuses at the Chinese factories which make their products. In a scathing undercover report issued last night, activist group China Labor Watch detailed a litany of alleged abuses, including employing workers as young as 14, at Samsung supplier HEG’s factory complex in mainland China.
In response to the allegations, Samsung issued a statement this morning saying it planned to reinspect the factory, which had passed previous audits:
Samsung Electronics has conducted two separate on-site inspections on HEG’s working conditions this year but found no irregularities on those occasions. Given the report, we will conduct another field survey at the earliest possible time to ensure our previous inspections have been based on full information and to take appropriate measures to correct any problems that may surface. Samsung Electronics is a company held to the highest standards of working conditions and we try to maintain that at our facilities and the facilities of partner companies around the world.
In its 31-page report, China Labor Watch alleges that HEG, which manufactures mobile phones, MP3 players, stereo equipment and other devices for Samsung, has committed the following violations:
The management are abusive during work, sometimes hitting workers on the factory floor. Any carelessness, such as slow movements, misoperation, or late completion of team leaders’ orders could provoke the shouting of team leaders at anytime. Everyday, employees in the workshops were punished by standing all day long, writing self-criticism, or getting fined.
According to the rules, a worker that discovers defects in the Samsung products will be rewarded by the company. But in reality , it never rewards employees; rather, it punishes them for reporting defects. Workers will be imposed a fine of 200 RMB ($31.7) each time they find a defect, and the fine was increased to 500 RMB ($79.4) beginning in March 2012. Evenmore, employees can face termination for finding defects.
Overall, CLW concluded that “working conditions at HEG are well below those general conditions in Apple’s supplier factories.” It looks like Samsung could have a controversy brewing.