Samsung Electronics: Violations of labour rights

Samsung Electronics is accused of using highly poisonous substances for its semiconductor production without informing or offering protection to their employees. Chinese Labour Watch reported violations of labour laws, such as child labour, in Samsung’s affiliated companies in China.[1] The South Korean organization SHARPS accused Samsung of causing severe, life-threatening illnesses, such as cancer, to 140 former employees.[2] In August 2012, the organization
attested to 56 work-related fatalities during an interview with ZDF’s (German TV network) magazine “Frontal 21”.[3]

According to an investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Research Institute, cancer- and especially leukaemia causing substances like benzene, formaldehyde, arsenic and radioactive material have been found at the production lines.[4] Samsung maintains that these substances are not used for production. Nevertheless, the company is accused of having a massive imbalance between profits and responsibility, particularly in terms of workplace safety and health issues. Samsung still denies any correlation between the cases of cancer and their working conditions.

China Labour Watch (CLW) accuses the enterprise of massive labour law violations. The allegations are numerous: necessitating excessive overtime hours due to low wages, unpaid work, doing work while standing for up to 12 hours at a
time, systematic employment of underage workers, discrimination, failure to issue pay checks, inadequate workplace safety standards, and prevention of unionized organization.[5]

These allegations are referring to companyowned factories and suppliers. For example, numerous cases of child labour have emerged at HEG Electronics. Underage workers work under the same conditions as adult employees while only
receiving 70% of an adult’s wage.[6] China Labour Watch has discovered that it is not unusual for Samsung to replace the names of former adult employees with the names of underage workers on company badges in order to
avoid legal ramification. Underage child labourers are usually hired directly from Samsung’s affiliated companies and do not receive a labour contract. Instead, the agreement is conducted by the schools and labour is passed off to the pupils as a compulsory part of their education.[7]

In November 2012, Samsung admitted to have found illegal work practices at their Chinese suppliers, following accusations by China Labour Watch.[8] Samsung has given its suppliers two more years to eliminate these practices.[9]

[1] http://www.spiegel.de/netzwelt/netzpolitik/china-labor-watchclw-beschuldigt-samsung-der-kinderarbeit-a-853464.html

[2] http://stopsamsung.wordpress.com/what%E2%80%99s-wrong-in-samsung-semiconductors/

[3] http://www.zdf.de/ZDF/zdfportal/web/ZDF.de/Frontal-21/2942216/23872458/6a799d/Tod-nach-Arbeit-f%C3%BCr-Samsung.html

[4] http://dx.doi.org/10.1179/1077352512Z.00000000022

[5] http://www.chinalaborwatch.org/pro/proshow-177.html

[6]http://www.chinalaborwatch.org/pro/proshow-175.html

[7] http://www.chinalaborwatch.org/pro/proshow-177.html

[8] http://chinalaborwatch.org/upfile/2012_11_26/20121126121032989.pdf

[9] http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2012/nov/26/samsung-illegal-china-suppliers

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