Samsung suspends business with Chinese supplier accused of employing minors

By Kang Yoon-seung

SEOUL, July 14 (Yonhap) -- Samsung Electronics Co. said Monday it tentatively suspended business with a Chinese supplier accused of hiring underage children and will sever transactions with the company if the allegations are proved true.

The announcement followed claims by New York-based China Labor Watch (CLW) Thursday that it discovered the use of child labor at a factory owned by Shinyang Electronics in Dongguan, southern China.

Samsung said in its official blog that it has found evidence that Shinyang had hired children in its facilities and that all transactions with the company have been halted since Sunday.

"Although we require our suppliers to follow their countries' labor laws, and provide necessary support to that end, we regret that the suspicions (of child labor use) arose," the company said.

"Samsung not only conducts investigations over Chinese suppliers by itself but also periodically asks third-party watchdogs to check their working environments," the world's No. 1 maker of smartphones said.

Samsung added it had inspected Shinyang on three separate occasions between 2013 and June 25 this year, but did not find any indications that minor age children worked at the company. It said the unlawful act allegedly took place on June 29.

The company said it will permanently terminate business with Shinyang if the unlawful act is officially confirmed, adding Chinese authorities are also looking into the case.

Last week, the CLW said Shinyang hired underage students, who usually work for a period of three to six months, mostly during peak production seasons. It said the younsters worked for 11 hours a day without overtime pay, and the Chinese company did not provide them with mandatory insurance.

"These young workers usually leave ... the factory as it enters the off-season, and the factory does not need to provide any sort of severance pay," the CLW's statement said. The activist group said it has confirmed at least five children under the age of 16 worked at the factory.

"Samsung's social responsibility reports are just advertisements. Samsung has put its energy into audits and the production of these reports, but these things are meant to appease investors and do not have any real value for workers," Li Qiang, executive director of CLW, had said in the statement.

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