Wed, Sep 05, 2012 - Page 15 News List

Samsung to check China suppliers for child labor

AFP, SEOUL

Samsung Electronics Co said yesterday it would inspect nearly 250 Chinese firms manufacturing goods for the South Korean tech giant, after a US-based group accused one supplier of using child labor.

Samsung said on-site inspections would be carried out at 105 Chinese firms with exclusive Samsung contracts, while 144 other non-exclusive suppliers would be required to provide documentary proof of their compliance with labor codes.

“We are implementing a rigorous plan to address any potential violations,” the company said in a statement, vowing to terminate contracts with any Chinese suppliers in violation of labor norms.

The one-site inspections will be carried out by a 100-member team by the end of the month, it said.

China Labor Watch, a New York-based rights group, reported last month that a firm assembling mobile phones for Samsung in Huizhou, China, HEG Electronics Co (海格國利電子), employed children under the age of 16.

Initial audits conducted by Samsung found HEG employed teenaged student workers and interns, but none younger than 16, the company said.

However, it did uncover a system of fines for lateness and absence — banned in China — as well as excessive overtime and inadequate health and safety standards.

Samsung said it had asked HEG to improve working conditions.

Separately, South Korean and German police are probing the disappearance of two next-generation Samsung TVs en route to Berlin, the electronics giant said yesterday, amid suspicions of commercial espionage.

Two organic light-emitting diode (OLED) sets were “lost” during delivery to Berlin for a technology trade fair that ran from Friday to today, Samsung said in a statement.

“Upon Samsung’s request, the [South] Korean and German authorities are currently conducting an investigation,” it said.

The state-of-the-art TVs have not been officially released in the market.

“Since these TVs are based on such cutting-edge technology owned by only a few firms, we can’t rule out the possibility that it was part of a crime aimed to steal it,” an informed source said.

Samsung, the world’s top TV producer, has promoted OLED as the next-generation technology that will help drive the future of the global television industry.

The firm and its archrival, LG Electronics Inc, plan to start selling OLED TVs by the end of this year, while Japan’s Sony Corp and Panasonic Corp have teamed up to jointly develop similar sets.

OLED TVs do not require separate backlights and thus are thinner, consume about 20 percent less power and offer a sharper picture than conventional flat-panel sets.

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