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Apple isn't the only one

Apple, Inc. (AAPL) has been thoroughly scrutinized by everyone from semi-accurate monologists to writers for The New York Times for reported Chinese labor abuses.  Interest piqued after a string of suicides at a primarily Apple manufacturing plant in Shenzhen highlighted poor working conditions among employees.

Apple's own yearly audits acknowledge such issues -- such as occasional child labor violations.

But it's hardly alone.  Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KSC:005930), the world's top smartphone maker, is now being forced to answer similar tough questions. A report by the advocacy group China Labor Watch accused its supplier HEG Electronics of using child labor at a plant in Huizhou, China.

Samsung does perform regular audits of its Chinese suppliers, but the audits are subcontracted to local Chinese third-party firms, a practice some say opens the door for lies and corruption.  

In the wake of the recent allegations Samsung has promised a new audit of HEG, sending a team of its own South Korean employees over by the end of the week to inspect the plant.  Samsung writes:

Samsung Electronics has conducted two separate on-site inspections on HEG's working conditions this year but found no irregularities on those occasions.

A team of inspectors consisting of Samsung personnel from Korea headquarters will be dispatched to Huizhou, China on August 9, and it will immediately launch an investigation and 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. 

Galaxy S worker
Samsung is accused of using contractors who use child labor to manufacture
its smartphones and tablets. [Image Source: BGR]

While not exactly a surprise visit, this could force HEG to at least avoid the most flagrant of labor abuses (or as Antoine Dodson would say, time to "hide your kids").

In a way Samsung has benefited from secrecy.  The company does not publish the results of its internal labor audits, while Apple does.  Thus much of the criticism leveled at Apple has been due to that company's willingness to share just how sordid the dark side of Chinese manufacturers are.

In most cases these violations boil down to manufacturers cutting corners, looking to pad their profits by pushing employees to work conditions considered "inhumane" by American and European standards.  

Those issues aside, it cannot be discounted that the electronics manufacturing industry has been a boon to the Chinese economy, lifting millions of workers out of the respectively back-breaking work in the fields into easier, better-paying factory jobs.  

This is evidenced by the fact that even amid outrage from American advocacies regarding labor conditions, their virtually never a shortage of willing workers in China, given the fact that the alternatives  too the "rough" factory life are, in reality, often far worse.

Sources: China Labor Watch, The Verge



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We'll investigate...
By Beenthere on 8/8/2012 10:09:02 PM , Rating: 2
...and get our PR flaks on it to save face while we profit from slave labor. No changes planned to eliminate the use of slave labor at Samsung, Foxconn, etc. however.

Consumers have a voice. You CAN vote with your wallet . There is absolutely nothing made in a Chinese slave/sweatshop that the world needs that can't be made as well or better in the U.S., U.K. or some other civilized country paying proper compensation, produced in decent working conditions without human exploitation.




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