Commentary: Samsung's Indictment in France: Fighting Transnational Corporation's Human Rights' Violations Through Consumer Law
Author: Sherpa, on Freedom Fund blog, Published on: 4 September 2019
“One of the most ethical companies in the world” versus the dramatic reality in the factories
With consumers increasingly paying attention to working conditions in the supply chain, companies have published ambitious ethical commitments to promote a responsible image. Samsung proclaims to be “one of the most ethical companies in the world” and publishes prescriptive and detailed ethical commitments on workers’ rights.
In contrast, NGOs’ investigations have uncovered alleged fundamental rights’ violations in Samsung’s supply chain: employment of children under the age of sixteen years old; abusive working hours; working and living conditions incompatible with human dignity.
For example, the use of toxic chemicals without adequate protection in Samsung’s Korean factories, including benzene and methanol, has caused incurable diseases. At least 465 workers have been affected, and 135 have died. Samsung has agreed to compensate some of these workers or families of the deceased, admitting its failure to protect them.
Nevertheless, despite serious findings of workers’ exploitation in China, Vietnam, and Korea, and more recently in India, Indonesia and Vietnam, Samsung continues to display the same ethical commitments ensuring workers’ safety.
The first indictment in France for misleading advertising
To denounce this gap between the reality in factories and multinational companies’ ethical commitments, Sherpa and ActionAid France filed a lawsuit against Samsung France and its parent company in Korea, Samsung Electronics, for misleading advertising on January 11, 2018.
Related companies: Samsung