Samsung under fire by watchdog group for using child labor

A new report by China Labor Watch looks to shine a light on alleged labor abuses at the factories where Samsung's DVD players and mobile phones are manufactured.

The Samsung Galaxy S III smartphone. Josh Miller/CNET

Factories where Samsung DVD players and mobile phones are assembled are rife with labor rights abuses, a Chinese labor watchdog charged today.

According to a report (PDF) released today, HEG Electronics allegedly employs children under the age of 16 and forces its factory employees to work unreasonably long hours.

"The company has clearly violated Chinese labor laws," the watchdog, China Labor Watch, told Bloomberg in an article today. "A serious light needs to be shined on these issues."

According to China Labor Watch's report, which is based on an investigator working undercover at HEG, child labor is prevalent in the factory and the children face the "same harsh conditions" as adults but are paid less. All 2,000 employees are allegedly obliged to work between 11 and 13 hours per day and are only given a 40-minute break to eat. On top of that the report lists the worker meals and dormitory conditions as "appalling."

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

China Labor Watch's report on HEG comes after a similar report it did on Apple's iPad and iPhone manufacturer, Foxconn. The watchdog accused of Foxconn of such abysmal labor standards that several workers committed suicide. These accusations led to Apple bringing in the Fair Labor Association earlier this year to audit the manufacturer's facilities. The FLA found a host of issues with working conditions, including excess overtime and low wages. Foxconn agreed with the FLA to reduce hours and increase pay for its employees.

According to China Labor Watch's new report on HEG, the conditions are "well below" those at Foxconn.

Updated at 5:55 p.m. PTwith comment from Samsung's spokesperson.

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