Samsung Encounters Labor Issues Amongst Suppliers in China

Samsung wants the recognition of being one of the top 10 places of employment in the world. It is a core goal for the South Korean based company in its Vision 2020 plan of the future.

However, to reach that it will have to make many corrections on working practices at different manufacturing plants that produce its goods.

Samsung, as part of the company’s Sustainability Report for 2014, commissioned 100 independent inspections of its different suppliers in China. The results regrettably were quite grim.

Most of the Chinese suppliers were not in compliance with the legal number of overtime hours permitted in China. Fifty percent had workers, less than 18 years of age handling chemicals that were potentially hazardous and one third did not provide proper insurance for the employees.

Fifty-nine of the sites inspected lacked an adequate amount of safety equipment or the appropriate monitoring. Three of the suppliers exceeded the permitted environmental limits for noise levels and dust, while 33 did not properly manage waste and sewage disposal.

Half of the Chinese suppliers for Samsung have work safety issues.

The findings have added to the unhappy history of accidents at the facilities of Samsung, and will by worrisome for the company.

Samsung, in its defense, has consistently mandated and asked for better practices in the operations of the plants from suppliers and has helped directly through providing basic training as well as donating equipment such as evacuation maps and fire extinguishers.

In addition, over the last year, Samsung rectified more than 1,934 issues of work hazard identified on production plants by the Ministry of Labor in Korea and 9 others that the Ministry of Environment pinpointed.

There are 2,000 highly trained plant inspectors, who oversee the work operations. They include specialists in chemicals that are dangerous and a leak response unit that is always on site.

No underage employment was found in the suppliers for Samsung in China. The zero tolerance policy of Samsung against working conditions that are illegal is subject to allowing the supplier to rectify the issues prior to enforcing a threat of no longer doing business with them.

Samsung is not alone in trying to overcome conflicts of producing goods inexpensively without sacrificing the welfare of workers.