Samsung accused of 'unsustainable labour practices' in its supply chain; Incl. co. statement

In 2019, investigative news reporters at Korean media outlet, Hankyoreh, released a series called “Global Samsung: A report on unsustainable labor practices", based on its investigations into mobile phone factories supplying to Samsung in India, Indonesia, and Vietnam. The series includes a number of labour rights allegations including, health and safety concerns linked to worker deaths, poor wages, exploitation and union busting. Links to the reports, in English and Korean, can be found below. 

Samsung says it takes the allegations seriously and has released a statement in response to the series, included below. Also included below is a previous response Business & Human Rights Resource Centre has sought from Samsung in relation to some of the issues raised in the Hankyoreh series. 

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Article
10 July 2019

Samsung statement in response to investigative series alleging labour abuses in factories

Author: Samsung

"Samsung's Commitment to Our Workers in Global Operations", 10 July 2019

 ...Earlier this month, South Korean newspaper Hankyoreh suggested that some of Samsung’s production facilities in Vietnam, India and Indonesia had violated several workplace standards. We took this allegation very seriously and would like to provide facts and clarifications...

- At all of our worksites, employees – including contract workers – are paid above the minimum wage and the levels set by law... [and] are also provided with an appropriate level of benefits and leaves.

- ...Samsung makes information about chemicals...available and provides training for employees who handle chemicals, in full compliance with the laws and regulations of the countries in which we operate.

- ...Thai Nguyen...working...conditions complied with regulations...an investigation...showed that her...death was not related to her employment...

- ...The benefits we provide support employees by giving them commuting and housing options...

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Item
24 June 2019

Investigative series alleges "unsustainable labour practices" in Samsung's supply chain

Author: Hankyoreh

"The Global Samsung Unsustainability Report", 24 June 2019

Investigative news reporters at Korean media outlet, Hankyoreh, visited nine cities in India, Indonesia, and Vietnam and surveyed more than 120 workers at mobile phone factories over a 70-day period to develop an investigative series they call, “Global Samsung: A report on unsustainable labor practices.” The series asks questions about the life and work of company workers in Asian countries that host its major bases of production. The series assesses Samsung Electronics’ sustainability as a top-tier global company and describes its results as “unpleasant truths.”... 

The reports in English and Korean can be found here.

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Company response
5 December 2017

Samsung responds to report on working conditions at manufacturing facilities in Vietnam

Author: Samsung Electronics

[W]ith regards to the [...] IPEN report about working conditions at our manufacturing facilities in Vietnam.

First, we would like to offer our company's perspective, both regarding the content of the IPEN report and regarding the way this report was drafted and published. Second, we would like to contextualise our position by providing the summary results of recent audits performed on site in the factories targeted by the IPEN-report. One of the third-party audits included interviews with 266 employees, without the facility management being present...

...We do not agree with the assessment described in the report... As part of our work to ensure law-abiding standards in our operations, the Vietnamese labour authorities audit the facilities every year. And as our further commitments to ensure the standards, independent third parties [...] have conducted on-site audits of the facilities in December 2016 and June 2017 respectively.

Furthermore, the audits [...] show a reality that refutes the violations which are raised by the interviewees in the IPEN report.

Samsung Electronics takes great care to provide a workplace environment that assures the highest standards of health, safety and welfare. We respect our employees and are committed to comply with applicable laws and regulations in every region we operate in...

Following the on-site audit, Samsung Electronics has adopted a corrective action plan consisting of three steps to designed to improve all identified issues...

Download the full document here