Samsung’s “zero tolerance” child labor policy is actually more like 70% tolerance

A worker at an LCD factory in China’s Hubei province.
A worker at an LCD factory in China’s Hubei province.
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Someone in Samsung’s compliance department isn’t entirely clear on what “zero tolerance” means.

The company said yesterday that as a result of child labor violations at one of its Chinese suppliers, Dongguan Shinyang Electronics, Samsung will decrease its business by 30% at Dongguan’s facilities. An investigation by US-based China Labor Watch found that at least five children under the age of 16—the legal limit in China—were working at Dongguan’s manufacturing plant in Guangdong.

Samsung suspended its operations at Dongguan on July 14, saying, “If the investigations conclude that the supplier indeed hired children illegally, Samsung will permanently halt business with the supplier.” Samsung subsequently concluded that a subcontractor, rather than the supplier itself, had hired the underage workers.

“Samsung has decided to still take measures against Dongguan Shinyang to hold the supplier responsible for failing to monitor its subcontractors, in accordance with Samsung’s zero tolerance policy on child labour,” the company said in yesterday’s statement.

Work at the facility resumed yesterday.