A petition at The Petition Site is being circulated that demands Samsung improve working conditions at its Chinese factories. The petition targets Boo-Keun Yoon, CEO of the Samsung Group, and accuses the company of operating or contracting with scores of factories that have unsafe working conditions. More than 40,000 people have signed the petition so far.
TMO's Artist Impression of Working Conditions
The petition's text:
A third-party audit of 100 of Samsung's Chinese factories found dozens of labor violations, including excessive working hours and failure to provide adequate safety equipment.
According to the latest report, 33 suppliers broke local insurance regulations, 39 paid fixed wages with no overtime, and 33 cut pay to punish workers. 59 of the suppliers failed to provide safety goggles, and 48 allowed minors to handle chemicals. Some suppliers also had workers in excessively dusty or noisy environments.
This is not the first time Samsung has been accused of unethical labor practices. Please sign the petition to urge Boo-Keun Yoon, Samsung's CEO, to improve conditions for workers in his factories.
It's interesting to see Samsung the target of such efforts. For years, activists, petition-makers, and the mainstream media that noticed targeted Apple for the conditions in its Chinese factories. This despite the reality that Apple was doing more than any of its competitors to ensure its third party contractors met one of the highest supplier code of conduct in the industry.
The flip side of that, however, is that in the face of activist criticism, Apple stepped up those efforts even more, conducting more audits, increasing its already high levels of transparency on the topic, and increasing its already higher-than-everyone-else's standards. Apple has also gone above and beyond anyone's requirements or regulations and worked hard to increase the amount of recycling done at its factories.
At the same time, Apple's competitors were not being criticized or targeted by petitions at anywhere near the same levels. That may be changing, though, and it's about time. In the time it took me to write this article, roughly a thousand people added their names to this petition.
The question is whether or not Samsung will step up like Apple did and try to improve conditions. I won't be holding my breath, but to Samsung's credit, the conglomerate stopped doing business with a Chinese factory just this month after it was implicated for violating child-labor regulations.
Image made with help from Shutterstock.