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Phones

Samsung accused over harsh labour conditions in Brazil

Prosecutors in Brazil are seeking £70m in damages from Samsung over backbreaking conditions in factories.

Samsung is facing a £70m fine as Brazilian authorities claim factory workers are subjected to backbreaking working conditions.

Public prosecutors in Brazil are seeking £70m in damages from Samsung over labour law violations in facilities where our mobile phones and televisions are assembled.

Prosecutors allege that workers in a plant in the Manaus Free Trade zone are forced to work for up to 15 hours without sufficient breaks, standing for as long as 10 hours at a time and leading to back ache and cramps.

Workers are reported to be expected to assemble a television set roughly every minute, and have just 32 seconds to put together a mobile phone. One worker is alleged to have packed as many as 3,000 phones in a day.

It's the latest reminder of the uncomfortable realities behind our craving for gadgets. Although conditions in factories, like the one in Shanghai pictured above, are said to be improving, just recently Apple was in the spotlight over the rumoured cheaper, plastic iPhone 5C being built in abusive conditions by Chinese manufacturer Pegatron. A labour group alleged 86 labour rights violations, including underage labour, poor living conditions and abuses of women's rights.

Apple and other manufacturers were also in hot water last year over allegations of poor conditions at notorious Chinese manufacturer Foxconn, where industrial accidents, labour violations and even suicides were reported.

Do technology companies have a responsibility to improve the conditions of the workers who build our gadgets, or is this just the harsh reality of global business? Tell me your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page.