Samsung dismisses underage workers claims

Samsung Electronics Co., the world's largest maker of Samsung Electronics Co., the world's largest maker of televisions and mobile phones, Monday, Dec. 17, 2012, disputed claims raised by a labor-rights group that suppliers of the South-Korea-based company have employed underage workers in China factories. Photo Credit: Getty Images, 2010

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Samsung Electronics Co., the world's largest maker of televisions and mobile phones, said supplier HTNS Shenzhen Co. hasn't employed underage workers, dismissing claims raised by a labor-rights group.

"We have confirmed that there are no underage workers employed" at HTNS Shenzhen, the Suwon, South Korea-based company said in an emailed statement Monday. "Samsung holds itself and its supplier companies to the highest standards and maintains a zero-tolerance policy on child labor."

Manufacturers including Samsung and Apple Inc. have faced scrutiny for the way component suppliers in China treat workers. HTNS, a maker of mobile-phone covers in Huizhou City, has employed at least three girls under the legal working age of 16, according to a report by China Labor Watch.

Samsung's investigation included a meeting on Dec. 14 with the "alleged underage employee" at the supplier and a representative from the labor group, the company said in Monday's statement. The worker said she is older than 18, and Samsung also confirmed that two other employees, who are no longer with the supplier, were of legal age when hired, it said.

Samsung began auditing all sites in China in September and implemented new hiring policies to strengthen identity verification, including in-person interviews of all candidates, introduction of electronic devices to detect fake IDs and enhanced training and guidelines for managers and administrative personnel, according to Monday's statement.

Ninety percent of Samsung's parts are supplied in-house at manufacturing facilities that offer "world-class working conditions," the company said Monday.

Samsung said it will continuously monitor suppliers in China through a third-party auditor, and contracts with suppliers that employ underage workers will be terminated.

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