A New York-based watchdog group is accusing a Chinese manufacturer of product components supplied for major technology companies Samsung and Lenovo.
China Labor Watch (CLW) has released a report claiming that HEG Electronics has more than ten children under the age of 16, the youngest of whom is 14 years old, working in its manufacturing plant in Huizhou in Guangdong Province. The group also alleges HEG of having hired more than 100 student employers who were not being paid overtime wages and night shift subsidies.
CLW executive director Li Qiang says he has spoken with a 19-year-old female student who worked on HEG's Samsung product line who had to work four hours on overtime in additional to the regular eight hours but was only paid 8.5 RMB, equivalent to $1.38, per hour although the overtime wages should have been at least 1.5 times greater. She also told Qiang that HEG refused to pay many student workers their salary when they resigned on August 23 for the opening of classes.
The group conducted its investigation from July to August this year and also concluded that HEG was also involved in discriminatory hiring practices, lack worker safety training and enforce more than 100 hours of overtime for each employee. CLW also says the company makes it difficult for workers to resign and forces them to stay on their feet for up to 13 hours long.
Samsung, however, denies the allegations, saying it conducted onsite investigations on the facility in question, including one-on-one interviews with workers, in response to the labor group's statement and found no child or student workers. The company also says it notified CLW of its findings and called for a "joint onsite investigation for more precise verification."
"We find it regrettable that CLW issued the allegations today without any mention of our statement," says Samsung in a statement.
Reuters also report that it has contacted an HEG human resources employee only identified with the surname Zeng, who says that the company has never hired underage workers. Zeng also says that HEG has facial recognition systems in place to ensure that no children can work in its facility.
Lenovo, for its part, said it was looking into the matter but declined to provide further comment.
This isn't the first time Samsung, or any other technology company, was alleged of working with suppliers that hired child laborers in China. Earlier this year, Samsung, which touts a "zero tolerance policy" for child labor, temporarily suspended its partnership with Shinyang Electronics after finding out that the company unintentionally hired child workers.
Apple has also been caught under fire for child labor accusations after Foxconn, a Taiwan-based supplier for the iPhone maker, was revealed to have hired minors.