New report highlights labor abuses at Samsung factories

Wed, Oct 10, 2012


Just a few days ago, Samsung posted record earnings that topped analyst estimates, largely thanks to healthy sales of its Galaxy lineup of smartphones. All told, operating profit increased by 91% while earnings increased by 93%.

Not bad at all, and the company’s patent issues with Apple aside, the Korean electronics giant – which makes everything from smartphones to washers and dryers – is raking in money hand over first.

All that said, Patently Apple recently highlighted a report titled “Samsung Factory Exploiting Child Labor” put together by the China Labor Watch. The report notes that Samsung routinely employs young children in its factories to help put together phones, DVDs, and other electronic eqiupment.

As part of their two-month investigation, members of the China Labor Watch specifically identified 7 children under the age of 16 working in Samsung factories. The exact number, however, remains unknown since investigators didn’t have access to all areas of Samsung’s factories.

The report went on to state that CLW’s research indicated that student laborers amount to 80% of the total workforce in the factory. During their follow up investigations, their investigators suspected that there were a large number of child laborers in other┬ádepartments of the factory, estimating that there may be 50 to 100 children working there. These children were working under the same harsh conditions as adult workers, but were paid only 70% of the wages when compared with the formal employees. Moreover, these child workers were often required to carry-out dangerous tasks that resulted in injury.

What’s particularly startling is that the company responsible for auditing Samsung’s factories, Intertek, reportedly is prone to accepting bribes in return for letting various violations slide.

Being that Wall Street is so enamoured with Samsung of late, perhaps it’s time to highlight that Samsung’s phenomenal profit spike is coming in part from the cruel conditions imposed on their labor force. Not that I like what I’m hearing out of Foxconn either, but Apple has already been taken to the woodshed for their sins and is at least on paper trying to improve worker conditions. But Samsung a different cat; they want to pretend that they’re the “good guys” in the press and point fingers at Apple as being the defender of patents instead of innovation. What a bunch of bunk. Today we see Samsung’s true colors and they’re simply greedy bastards with little care for conditions that their workforce is under each and every day. Maybe that’s why Wall Street loves these guys so much.

There’s a lot more in the full article which you can check out here. And of course, it goes without saying that Apple has itself run afoul of, shall we say moral, practices in factories that put together its products. It’s just strange that those stories involving Apple make international news when equally abhorrent stories involving other large companies like Samsung are seemingly ignored. Labor abuses by any company should be focused on in an attempt to remedy it. Point blank.


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