Samsung Audit Finds No Underage Workers, But Some Serious Problems

Illustration for article titled Samsung Audit Finds No Underage Workers, But Some Serious Problems

Last month a Chinese labor watchdog fingered Samsung for employing, and abusing, underage workers in its factories. Now a Samsung audit has found no evidence of underage workers—but plenty of other problems to worry about.


Investigating the HEG Electronics facility in Huizhou, China, which was the focus of last month's report, Samsung found no evidence of employees under the age of 16. It did, however, uncover plenty aged 16-17—but they were student workers whose presence was perfectly legal.

Elsewhere, though, the audit did uncover plenty of dubious practices: poor management, a system of fines for lateness and absence, overtime beyond local regulations, and inadequate health and safety measures. Phew.

Perhaps it's not surprising, then, that the facility has a high staff turnover rate, at around 30 percent per month. Skeptics among you may suggest that the underage workers, then, have just been moved along in preparation for the audit. And, umm, you may well be correct.

As a result, Samsung has "formally notified" HEG that it must improve its working conditions, and also plans to carry out on-site inspections of its 105 suppliers in China by the end of September. Which, uh, is a start at least. [Samsung via Verge]

Image by opopododo under Creative Commons license



The Diversionist

There are no morals in business. The only thing binding any corporate entity is the law, and even then only for the purpose of avoiding financial penalties. As long as a market of cheap manufacturing exists in China, albeit by exploiting humans, companies will continue to flock to these manufacturers to increase/maintain margins and keep shareholders happy.

The only way these stories can have any impact is if it elicits consumers to refrain from buying these companies' products, instead going with a competitor who implements moral manufacturing practices, thereby putting the only type of pressure on a company the consumer can by putting a dent in sales. But more often than not in the case of electronics, there are no companies which make an equivalent device or employ such moral practices.

So tl;dr: basically it's hopeless. I just wanted to point out there is no use saying Apple and Samsung are immoral; there is no morality in business.