Samsung suspends business with supplier in child labor probe

The South Korean electronics giant says it will sever business ties with a supplier if its investigation determines violations occurred.

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Samsung announced late Sunday it has temporarily suspended its business relationship with one of its suppliers after finding evidence of suspected child labor violations at its facilities.

The move comes three days after US activist group China Labor Watch released a new report that detailed children working on assembly lines at Samsung supplier Shinyang Electronics in Dongguan, China. The group's report alleged that several of the seasonal workers in the Dongguan plant were minors who work 11 hours a day, 7 days a week, without overtime pay.

The report also alleged that other labor abuses occurred in the factory, including excessive overtime, lack of worker safety, and poor living conditions.

The South Korean electronics giant responded to the report by saying it would investigate working conditions at Shinyang, one of Samsung's suppliers for mobile phone covers and parts.

"Following the investigation, Samsung decided to temporarily suspend business with the factory in question as it found evidences of suspected child labor at the worksite," the company said in a statement. "The decision was made in accordance with Samsung's zero tolerance policy on child labor."

This isn't the first time Samsung has been accused of child labor and poor working conditions. Several times in 2012, the company was accused of partnering with manufacturers that allegedly employed child workers. It was also accused of requiring employees to work overtime, along with other labor abuses at some of its own factories. The company was also sued by Brazil's Ministry of Labor and Employment in 2013 for allegedly violating labor laws in the South American country.

Samsung said it has conducted three separate audits of the Shinyang facility since 2013, the last one ending June 25, but never found any evidence of child labor. Following China Labor Watch's report, Samsung conducted another audit and found evidence that an "illegal hiring process" occurred on June 29, the company said Sunday.

Samsung said that if its investigation concludes that child labor violations occurred, it will permanently sever its business with Shinyang. The company also said it would strengthen the hiring process at its own production facilities and at its third-party suppliers to prevent child labor abuses.