Activists Accuse Samsung of Labor Abuse, Child Labor

| News

Activists have finally turned their attention to a tech company that doesn't have "Apple" in its name, accusing Samsung of exploiting workers, unsafe working conditions, and knowingly employing children to work in the Chinese factories that make its electronic goods.

According to China Labor Watch: "Student Workers and Child Workers During Break Time"

China Labor Watch, which is based in New York City, said that an investigation of eight factories in China found that workers were required to work, "11 hours for 6 days a week and 26 to 28 days per month." Those workers also have to stand for 11 hours per day at assembly lines.

Moreover, they are underpaid, and have to work up to 100 hours of overtime per month, or roughly 25 hours of overtime per week.

Children are allegedly hired using falsified documents, and the the factories investigated reportedly use children from vocational schools as a workaround for age requirements and work contracts. The factories sign contracts with the teachers, rather than the students, to keep everything nice, tidy, and most likely illegal.

"These children were working under same harsh conditions as adult workers, but were paid only 70% of the wages when compared with the formal employees," the rights group wrote in its report. "Moreover, these child workers were often required to carry-out dangerous tasks that resulted in injury."

Perhaps These Kids Helped Make Those Awesome Samsung Galaxy S3s

These are similar to the allegations that have plagued Apple for the last year as Western watch groups woke up to the realities of why Apple and every other electronics firm have sent all their manufacturing to China. Indeed, China Labor Watch is also critical of Apple's supply chain, and in June the rights group released a report that said "deplorable working conditions characterize in Apple's entire supply chain."

What's new here is that another large company is also being targeted. Working conditions are miserable throughout China's factories—as noted above, that's why so many manufacturing jobs have been moved to that country. Until this report from China Labor Watch, however, the headlines have made it appear as if Apple was the only company with any sort of labor issues.

The extra irony there is that even though there are still labor condition issues for Apple to improve, Apple alone has seemed interested in doing anything about it, and yet was only company being singled out.

The Mac Observer Spin The Mac Observer Spin is how we show you what our authors think about a news story at quick glance. Read More →

Welcome to the fabulous world of success, Samsung. It would seem that along with finally outselling the iPhone comes the prize of people noticing what you're doing in your factories. Congrats.

In the meanwhile, there was a lot of glee from Apple haters when publicity over working conditions in Apple's Chinese factories first arose, even while some Apple fans engaged in a little denial.

The reality is that this really is a problem for all of the companies that have moved manufacturing to China, Apple, Dell, HP, Samsung, Sony, LG, Microsoft, and every other company with manufacturing in China took their operations to that country because it is cheaper, there are fewer regulations, and workers are willing to work their butts off for a pittance compared to workers in the West and the developed countries in Asia.

It turns out that cheap, no regulations, and a seemingly unlimited number of hungry workers is a fine recipe for labor abuse, safety violations, kids being put through the wringer.

As I already noted, until now Apple was seemingly the only company in the hotseat for this stuff, while every other firm effectively got a free pass. That could be changing.

Apple has been proactive in cleaning up the operations of its suppliers, manufacturers, and contractors, and now we'll get to see if Samsung will do the same.

I personally won't hold my breath on that front.

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Bryan, did you perchance duplicate your “TMO Spin” text because not even you are able to edit your posted texts in this furschlugginer new TMO format?

Bryan Chaffin

Yeah, I did. Thanks for noticing! It’s fixed now.

And I’ll mark you down in the “Want the Ability to Edit” column. smile


Add me also, Bryan.  grin


This was only a matter of ‘when’ and not ‘if’ others, notably Samsung, now vying to fly in the same atmosphere with Apple, would come under scrutiny for labour abuse in hired Chinese (and other Asian) factories.

Other companies have been named in the press, including HP, Dell and MS, but so far, there has been little outcry. Samsung has made itself a special case as ‘Apple’s arch rival’, as the press are wont to say.

The interesting bit, in my view, is not that Samsung has been spotlighted, but whether or not there will be a hue and cry should they fail to make comparable (read identical) changes to those made by Apple at Foxconn. Should the press, activists and customers fail to demand changes, and the workers’ plight go unchanged, it will be, to borrow the word of one noted Vulcan science officer, “fascinating”.


Thanks, Bryan, but up ‘til now, my biggest problem with this new format is that so far, I’ve found no way to successfully log in to TMO on my iPhone.

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