Samsung halts business with supplier in China on child labor concern

Mon Jul 14, 2014 2:58am EDT
 
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By Se Young Lee

SEOUL (Reuters) - Samsung Electronics Co Ltd said it halted business with a supplier in China over suspected use of child workers, the first time it has taken such a step, after criticism that its monitoring of labor practices at suppliers was inadequate.

The decision, announced on Monday, comes less than a week after U.S.-based China Labor Watch said it found "at least five child workers" without contracts at the supplier and called Samsung's monitoring process to halt such practices "ineffective."

Samsung, the world's biggest smartphone maker, said it conducted three audits since 2013 of the supplier, a wholly owned subsidiary of South Korea's Shinyang Engineering Co Ltd, the latest of which ended on June 25.

But another investigation prompted by the watchdog's report led to evidence of what Samsung called suspected child labor, pointing to holes in the tech giant's ability to enforce its labour guidelines for Chinese suppliers.

"The Chinese authorities are also looking into the case," Samsung said in its statement on Monday.

It said it would permanently cut all ties with the supplier if the allegations were true, in line with its zero-tolerance policy on child workers.

Dongguan Shinyang Electronics and Shinyang Engineering could not be reached for comment despite multiple attempts to contact them by phone on Monday.

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A man walks out of Samsung Electronics' headquarters in Seoul January 6, 2014.   REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji