Samsung have cut off ties with a Chinese parts supplier accused of hiring child workers for as little as 70p per hour.
The South Korean phone giant has lunched an investigation in to claims made by human rights organisation China Labor Watch (CLW) that Dongguan Shinyang Electronics have been illegally hiring children to work at their factory.
According to the report from CLW, an investigator sent in to the factory found five children aged between 14 and 15 working there. The underage workers were earning less than adults doing the same job, working 11 hour shifts and only being paid for ten hours work.
The investigator said in the report: “The children said working on night shift is exhausting. They say they sometimes feel like sacrificing eating for sleeping.
“Each shift is a struggle for these children. Tired, they must face high quotas and strict management, with supervisors frequently yelling at them.”
Samsung has now suspended business with the factory following the revelations.
A spokesman for Samsung said: ‘It is unfortunate that the allegation surfaced despite Samsung’s efforts to prevent child labour at its suppliers. As part of its pledge against child labour, Samsung routinely conducts inspections to monitor its suppliers in China to ensure they follow the commitment, and has provided necessary support.’
Samsung have been criticised for filing to put proper safeguards in place to protect their workforce. The electronics manufacturer recently held an audit of its factories that found no evidence of child labour.
Warwick Business School Associate Professor Mark Johnson researches supply chains and said the procedures that the manufacturer has in place clearly aren’t good enough.
Dr Johnson said: “The cost of outsourcing for a company is the loss of control of its supply chains as it cedes responsibility to its suppliers while procuring parts at a low price. This can, if unacceptable labour practices are found result in reputational damage.
“Although Samsung have acted swiftly it has taken an activist group to bring the problem to their attention, something that is likely to damage their hard-earned reputation among customers, investors and other stakeholders.”
Chinese authorities will also be investigating the claims about the factory, with Samsung pledging to stop doing business with the supplier if the claims are proven to be true.