Samsung has hit back at allegations it employed underage workers at one of its supplier factories, CNET reports.
China Labor Watch -- the same group that brought us news of the strike at the Foxconn plant, that Foxconn later denied -- reported that at least three girls under the age of 16 were working at the HTNS Shenhzen Co. factory where Samsung's mobiles are put together.
Not only did China Labor Watch say the workers were underage, it also alleged they were working long overtime hours, in one case more than 150 hours. "Treated the same as adult workers, these three girls work overtime hours in excess of 13 hours per day and are paid overtime wages below the legal standard," the group said.
In its rebuttal, Samsung says it met with both HTNS Shenzhen and China Labor Watch to confirm the age of one of the workers. "I do not understand why we are having this discussion," Samsung quotes her as saying. "I am over 18 years of age."
Samsung claims the other two workers were of legal working age when HTNS Shenzhen hired them. It says ages were verified using electronic equipment usually used for scanning for fake IDs.
China Labor Watch also claimed it uncovered other abuses including forced overtime, forced labour, overtime wages below the legal minimum, crude personnel management, hiring discrimination, safety training that didn't satisfy legal standards, workers not being allowed to resign, and heavy use of dispatch labour.
"Samsung holds itself and its supplier companies to the highest standards and maintains a zero tolerance policy on child labour," Samsung said in its statement.
"As part of our pledge against underage employment, we began auditing all sites in China in September, and are implementing new hiring policies to strengthen verification measures. These include in-person interviews of all candidates, the introduction of electronic devices to detect fake IDs, and enhanced training and guidelines for managers and HR personnel.
"We will continuously monitor suppliers in China from 2013 onwards through an independent third-party auditor, the Validated Audit Process of the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition. Contracts with suppliers who employ underage workers will be terminated."
Image credit: China Labor Watch